Contractors, Gig Workers Now Able to File for Unemployment

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Since coronavirus hit, 26 million people across the country have filed for unemployment.

It's estimated that more than one in ten of the claims filed came from Florida.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor showed 324,718 more claims were filed last week than the week before.

This number does not include the countless people who have not been able to submit an application due to technical difficulties.

“I tried to use the 'Forgot my PIN' option, and it told me my social security number was not found,” Scott Gokey said.

Gokey says he spent weeks trying to submit an application online before submitting a paper application. He has not been updated on whether his application has been accepted.

“You email them, and you don’t hear anything back either, I have emailed them twice,” Gokey said.

Just this week the DEO has released information detailing how independent contractors and gig workers can apply for benefits.

According to a Fact Sheet of Frequently Asked Questions found on the DEO website, “Gig workers will apply just like any other individual would apply for Reemployment Assistance benefits. They will fill out the regular Reemployment Assistance application to determine if they’re eligible for regular Reemployment Assistance benefits, and if they’re not, they will be directed to fill out a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application.”

The DEO website also says that those who qualify can receive retroactive benefits, “The retroactivity is only applicable to the federal CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program."

“It is obviously very stressful and frustrating, because we do qualify, and as everyday goes by that’s more bills and more stress,” Ron Gross said.

Gross is a gig worker who drives for Uber, Lyft, and other companies. He says his initial claim for unemployment benefits was denied, and now he is waiting for answers.

He says the nearly month delay between when he stopped working and when the DEO started processing claims for gig workers has put his family in a bad financial situation.

“Our family probably has three weeks before money really dries up and we are out on the street,” Gross said.

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