Monday, January 14, 2008

  1. Call the unemployment office.
  2. Wait for them to say "Thank you".
  3. Hang up.

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 ...

  1. You can apply by fax or mail by going to 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.
  2. Apply online by going to Advantage: relatively hassle-free; disadvantage: little or no feedback.
  3. 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 EspaƱol: (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.


Nina said...

I'm not a member of TAG (but I'm AFTRA so we're brothers and sisters) and came to your blog by Googling something like "how in the name of God to get EDD to answer their fricking phones!". I'd been trying for weeks after I had a problem with my initial claim....even knowing your secrets, I had no luck until I tried calling at 8:45 AM on a Thursday. But I did get through and got my problem fixed, so thank you Jeff!

Anonymous said...

we tried for days and days to get through and then we went to this website and all the things they told us to do worked....BUT!!! those freaks from the unemployment didnt fix our problems but made them worse by saying that we arent gonna get a damn until we file more forms and an appeal!!! how hard is it to send us the check they promised to send!!!??

Anonymous said...

WOW! Totally worked for me. I had been trying for over an hour the Monday after the second emergency unemployment extension was signed into law. I got through in 7 mins after being disconnected repeatedly for over an hour! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your advice. However, even if you dial the 12117 extension, you may still get a "please call again later" message because there are too many people on the line. I've been trying for ages to get a hold of these people! I can't file online because I worked in two states this past year. So, I have to keep calling... and calling. As if being unemployed wasn't frustrating enough!

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat. I've worked outside CA during the past 18 months, which requires you to call in. I'm currently on hold...I made it all the way through the process only to get disconnected. Not hung up on...just disconnected. Has anyone who worked outside of CA tried just mailing the form in that's online? I'm wondering what other information they need from me...

Anonymous said...

In order to even get the form to print I had to answer 3 questions relative to working in another state in the last 18 months. So the next window I'm given says due to the circumstances of my situation I need to call. I was in an EDD office yesterday. They wouldn't file a claim in person. The directed me to a phone that was a direct line, but you still had to keep trying repeatedly per the instructions above. I sat there for 20 minutes waiting for others before going home to try with the new dialing method. 24 hours later still no luck. P.S. I've been trying on-and-off since November.

Anonymous said...

I tried the method recommended above - to no avail. The few times I got the "Welcome" message, it then went on to tell me that EDD had more calls than it could handle, so please try again. In desperation, I went to the EDD home page and found a Contact EDD option at the very bottom of the page.
This option allows you to send an email to EDD. You choose from among various topic areas - including (ironically)"Told to call EDD". I left an email - and amazingly - someone from EDD CALLED ME the next day.
I strongly recommend this method for getting thru to EDD.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have been trying to reach a human body since October of last year. Your tip on dialing the 1242 extension got me to an actual human body after waiting only about seven minutes.

Anonymous said...

WOW! This is my first time filing for unemployment and my first time calling the office in California and got in within 5 minutes! Fixed my problem within 10 minutes! Took me three tries but I followed the directions above and it works. Keep trying until you hear the "Welcome..." and you're in! Good luck to all and thanks for the post, you saved me a lot of stress lol.

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the tips! This is also my first time filing for unemployment. I called three times today, Thursday, at 1:45pm and got the "Thank you.." message the first two times. The third, I got the "Welcome..." and dialed 12117, waited less than a minute, and I am now talking to a live person!

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I can not get through here at all! Even with the "welcome" greeting and using the above prompts. Now it says after you are told to have you SSN ready that they are overwhelmed with calls and to call back later. Then, you get hung up on. I have been trying for weeks! I try every day of the week at all different times including EXACTLY at 8am... HELP!

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