When the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out almost all of Daniel Herman's coming work, he was hopeful that he would get help from the federal government, NBC News reports.
Herman, 30, a videographer and musician from Boulder, Colorado, believed he would qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, a new federal relief program for self-employed gig workers and independent contractors. The program was designed to support freelancers like Herman, who would not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits.
But four months later, a bureaucratic glitch has kept Herman shut out of the program. The issue is related to one of the jobs Herman had last year, doing sound for live shows at a coffee shop. The shop put him on the payroll rather than pay him as a freelancer. Even though Herman earned only about $2,600 for the work, a small fraction of his total income for the year, it was enough to punt him into Colorado's traditional unemployment system and disqualify him from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
"It's like there's this huge carrot dangling in front of my face, but it's a few inches away from me and I can't reach it," Herman said. "This bill was written to help support gig workers, but this just seems like a huge oversight."
Legal experts, policy analysts and entertainment industry leaders believe that thousands of freelancers and gig workers are in a similar position, shut out of the PUA program because they earned a small amount of traditional wages. The snafu has left many getting far less in weekly benefits than they would through PUA.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com