Now that we no longer have to drive to an office and stand in line, there are three ways to get in touch with the state of California's EDD (Employment Development Department) about unemployment insurance, and they each have their pluses and minuses ...
- You can apply by fax or mail by going to http://www.edd.ca.gov/uirep/uiapp.htm and downloading the form, then faxing it to (866) 215-9159 or mailing it to: EDD, P. O. Box 5007, Buena Park, CA 90622-5007. The advantage it's that it's relatively hassle-free; the disadvantage is that it takes it takes the longest time for your claim to be processed.
- Apply online by going to https://eapply4ui.edd.ca.gov. Advantage: relatively hassle-free; disadvantage: little or no feedback.
- And then there's calling them on the phone. If you have questions this is just about the only way to get them answered promptly, but it means you have to deal with the EDD's phone system from beyond hell.
At a recent seminar I heard a presentation from an EDD with some refreshiningly practical advice on dealing with their phone system:
The toll-free phone number for California unemployment insurance is (800) 300-5616 -- en Español: (800) 326-8937. The system is open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays and is closed on state holidays.
It may be very difficult to get through to apply or to have questions answered in person, and you will have the most luck if you treat the phone call as if you were trying to win tickets on a radio station. Callers will get one of several voice recordings when they call the 800 number but only one will allow you to file a claim or speak directly to an EDD rep about a specific problem.
If the recording begins, "Thank you ..." then hang up.
If the recording begins, "Due to the number of callers ..." then hang up.
Only if the prompt begins, "Welcome ..." should you stay on the line. Once you hear this prompt, and you would like to apply for unemployment insurance, dial the number 12117 and begin.
If you would like to follow up on a claim you have already filed, dial the number 1242.
It will likely take you 10-15 minutes to get through using this method.
Does this beat the "good old days" or standing in line at an office? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it's a good tip on beating the odds to get direct service.