SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — More than a million unemployed Californians were asked to re-verify their identities by the state’s Employment Development Department and saw payments suspended right before the new year.
This week, EDD officials announced it is giving recipients 30 days instead of 10 days to re-verify their identities. But for so many, waiting even days can mean the difference between survival and hopelessness.READ MORE: Lake County Luxury Hotel, Housing Project Raises Concerns Over Wildfire Risk
Two weeks ago, Dustin Teter was living out of his car. He lost his job as a data scientist and got notified abruptly in late December that EDD suspended payments to his account.
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Teter needed $300 to pay for his health insurance to get needed medication. After seeing his story on KPIX 5, viewers immediately began emailing KPIX-5 asking how to help.
“To think that that small amount of money is so critical when it’s your health. It’s your life, you know, it was just touching,“ said Los Gatos resident Kristine Gunderson.
“Before I fell asleep I watched that original segment and as I was falling asleep, it was on my mind that story about Dustin and what he was going through,” said San Rafael resident Michael Probst.READ MORE: Theft Leaves San Jose Couple Bereft: 'We’re Heartbroken, All Our Precious Things Are Gone'
A day after KPIX 5 aired Teter’s story, reporter Kenny Choi noticed Teter had put an immediate stop on his GoFundMe account even as donations kept pouring in.
“It was hard for me to swallow at first,” Teter said of his plight. “I have a lot of pride. I’ve never really asked for help like I have.”
But he has discovered that others were willing to help him even if they were also undergoing tough times.
Probst, who donated hundreds of dollars to Teter, told Choi that he and his wife had both lost their jobs and were also having problems getting their unemployment insurance benefits.
“It just occurred to me you know my problems are minimal compared to what some people are going through right now and I just felt that I really wanted to help this man to get through this tough time,” said Probst.
EDD notified Teter this week his account has been verified, and payments will resume this weekend.MORE NEWS: Indoor Restaurant Dining Resumes, Movie Theaters Reopen in SF and Santa Clara Counties
Security experts highly recommend recipients immediately transfer EDD funds that first go to a Bank of America EDD debit card account into personal savings or checking as soon as payments are received.