When millions of people lost their jobs in a matter of days last spring, the deluge of unemployment filings overwhelmed state benefits offices. Five months into the crisis, many are still struggling to catch up.


David Moniz started a new job in March as a resident chef at Sur La Table, the kitchen goods retailer, in San Jose, Calif. His timing was terrible: After he spent just one day on the job, the store shut down because of the virus, and he was furloughed.


It took Mr. Moniz, 29, weeks of calling to get through to California’s employment office and file an unemployment claim. Then, after a few weeks, his benefits abruptly stopped. His file is shown as “pending” on the state website and, despite endless hours of calling, he has been unable to get through to address the problem. He hasn’t received a check since June 1.


Without any money coming in, Mr. Moniz has burned through his savings and racked up debt. He says he has $28 left before he hits his credit limit, and owes $200 in late fees and penalties to his bank, Wells Fargo.


“Wells Fargo calls me more than anyone in my family does because of my account right now,” he said.


Photographed on assignment for The New York Times in Fremont, Calif.


Text by Ben Casselman.

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