SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – San Diegans who are self-employed or independent contractors who’ve been put out of work amid the pandemic are struggling to collect unemployment benefits.
“I'm seeing people grasping for any sort of certainty,” says Kim Creekmore. She’s a self-employed stylist who owns Cultivate Hair Salon in La Mesa.
She also runs "Salon Professionals of San Diego," a network of thousands of local stylists. She says that several local stylists like her have filed for unemployment benefits after being forced to stop working during the pandemic.
“They're filing as self-employed. The government came down and said self-employed [people] were going to be covered but we haven't been seeing that come true,” she tells 10News.
Guy Hamel is one of the stylists who got a notice from the state’s unemployment office.
“It [showed] my maximum benefit amount was zero. Total wages were zero,” Hamel tells 10News. "That's when I started freaking out. I called probably over 200 times.”
When he finally got through to a representative, he says, “she said that I did everything right. I filled out everything right but the government wasn't ready to release the funds yet.”
California's Employment Development Department’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits are payable to the self-employed and independent contractors.
The EDD referred 10News to the website that reads in part:
“The EDD is sorting through details from the U.S Department of Labor as to how they want this complex program to work in issuing payments that the federal government will be funding. We have a dedicated team working around the clock with state partners to build this new program as quickly as possible. [The] page will be updated with instructions for filing a claim for PUA benefits when details become available. If you are unsure if you are an independent contractor or an employee who could be eligible for benefits, file for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits and we will determine your eligibility. After you have filed, refer to our step-by-step UI claims process. You’ll learn what to expect and the actions you need to take through the course of your claim for receiving benefit payments as long as you’re eligible.”
For more information, visit the California EDD website here.