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Tipline Investigation: Stroke survivor wins long fight to get her unemployment benefits

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - We first profiled Leslie Jackson and her battle against the California Employment Development Department on April 25th. She had applied for benefits more than a year ago in March, 2020 but received nothing from the state. Jackson said the EDD made her go before a judge to prove her identity.

"Need your passport, your ID, your bank statement, your social security card and, um, sent them all to them and they still didn't believe it was me," said Jackson.

Even after a judge ruled that Jackson was telling the truth about her identity, the EDD still didn't give her the benefits.

However, Jackson refused to stop fighting. She's been a fierce competitor in the past. She's a Hall of Fame water polo player from the Fresno area. She played at Cal-Berkeley on a scholarship, but then she suffered a serious head injury during a snowboarding accident and spent years learning how to walk and talk again.

"I'm disabled. I've been, I've had a stroke ten years ago and I've been trying to be independent and I'm stubborn. They should have a phone line for disabled people because I cannot read well and that's where most of my problems happen," said Jackson.

Jackson said she tried many times to get EDD to give her special assistance but she never received it.

In February, Jackson was out of work, out of money and just weeks away from losing her independence and being forced to move back with her mother in Fresno if she didn't receive her EDD benefits. She called the NewsChannel Three Tipline in a last ditch effort to get her benefits. We looked over her documentation and contacted EDD officials several times on Jackson's behalf since last year. Nothing worked, until our story put Jackson back in the spotlight.

Less than a week after our story aired, the EDD paid Jackson all of her back benefits worth thousands of dollars.

"So, I'm on top and thank you so much. I wouldn't have been paid unless you did the story on me. I'm so happy that I can stay in Santa Barbara and I do not have to move to Fresno, jobless alone with my mother," said Jackson.

We did receive the following statement from EDD: Employment Development Department always aims to ensure eligible claimants receive their unemployment benefits and we're very glad to hear Ms. Jackson's claim situation has been resolved.
Also, GoFundme for Jackson has raised almost $5,500.

California / Economy / Money and Business / NewsChannel 3 Investigates / Politics / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County / Ventura County / Video
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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here

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