CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - A relieved Carlsbad woman says her state unemployment benefits were restored after six weeks of painful frustration.
A stylist for 6 years, Shawna Foster has been out of work for much of the pandemic, her family relying on her part-time unemployment benefits to get by.
In mid-December, those benefits were suddenly suspended, along with 1.4 million others, as state officials looked into fraud concerns.
She says the email she was told to expect by January 6 -- asking her to verify her identity -- never came. She was eternally on the phone, trying to get through to EDD.
Finally, she got a hold of the form, which she submitted.
Her claim status remained unchanged.
She got another email asking her to submit the form again, this time with a selfie, which she did. The next day, she got notice her identity had been verified and it was being sent to EDD.
But a week went by and her claim status didn't change. It was mid-January, and her situation was getting desperate.
"My husband's job is part-time. Started panicking. My stepson lives with us. We have a family to feed. Rent is coming up. We have bills due. We have to get groceries, and we have nothing left," said Foster.
After she posted her story on the Nextdoor site, someone suggested emailing the office of her state assembly member -- Tasha Boerner Horvath -- which she did. A staffer helped her resubmit all her paperwork.
Almost immediately, she was notified that EDD had verified her identity. Again, her claim status was still frozen. She had to make one more long phone call.
"After getting through and being on hold for an hour, he said there was an error on my account for some reason. He put me on hold, came back five minutes later and said that he got it fixed," said Foster.
Finally, she got the lifeline she needed.
"It's a huge sense of relief. Through this, I've realized there are so many other people going through the same thing and also other issues. Some are waiting longer than me," said Foster.
At a news conference Monday, the EDD Director Rita Saenz said added anti-fraud security measures are creating longer wait times. An EDD spokesperson says with a demanding workload, staff are working through verification of claims as quickly as possible.