'Beyond frustrated:' Laid-off roofer with COVID stuck in EDD quagmire

William Anderson of Pittsburg was laid off as a roofer in June 2020. 

William Anderson is stuck what seems like EDD hell. 

He hasn't gotten any unemployment money for more than a year, despite resolving at least four apparent discrepancies with the Employment Development Department that had jammed up his application for benefits.

But now, the EDD is saying he has a fifth problem pending, which the agency has yet to detail for him. 

"I am beyond frustrated," Anderson said. 

The 52-year-old roofer from Pittsburg lost his job last June, as homeowners didn't want him coming over to show them roof samples or doing work on their houses.

But he couldn't get his EDD money at first, because the agency had his name as "Billy" on his W2 forms, when his full name is William.

He said he was able to finally fix this issue.

Next, he was blocked from getting paid because the EDD said he owned a business. He doesn't. 

Again, he said he was able to remedy this discrepancy by proving he was an employee of his roofing company, not the owner. Shortly after that, the EDD said he didn't make enough money to qualify for unemployment, but he was able to show his pay stubs to prove the agency wrong again. 

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Finally, the EDD asked him to prove his residency.

So, he said he sent in his driver's license, and cable and cell phone bills.

And according to Anderson, the EDD approved his claim.

But at the same time, the EDD has now told him he has a new issue but has to call to find out what it is. 

"I've been calling for days and days and haven't been able to get through," he said. 

And so now, he's just waiting. And waiting.

He hasn't been able to actually reach a person this time to figure out what's going on and he's hesitant to pay a bot again to robodial the beleagured agency. He said each automated call is between $30 and $50. 

In all, he estimates he's owed about $40,000 over the 60 weeks that he has yet to be paid. 

William Anderson of Pittsburg, Calif. 

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The EDD doesn't comment on specific cases.

But in general, the agency said in a statement: "We understand how challenging this pandemic has been for millions of people."

Since April 2020, EDD call centers are open 12 hours a day, seven days a week—which includes evenings and weekends. 

To date, EDD statistics show the agency has paid 83% of claimants in the first week that a claim was certified and received, but there are about 200,000 people who have cases that have been backlogged three weeks or more. 

Calls are down to the EDD but people are still having a tough time getting through. 

In mid-September, there were 1.7 million to the agency in one week, compared to a high of 9.7 million in January. 

But EDD data also shows that only 10% of the calls are getting picked up. 

On top of it all, Anderson, his wife, his mother-in-law and teenage daughter all were recently diagnosed with COVID. He said he doesn't even have money to buy gas to see her in the hospital. 

And earlier this year, he fractured his spine when he fell off a ladder helping a friend do some work in his garage.

Despite all this, Anderson knows he is still relatively fortunate. 

He thought about starting a GoFundMe, but said: "I see other people need it more. I can’t do that."

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez