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Self-employed to start seeing unemployment benefits soon

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: April 22, 2020 10:27 PM
Created: April 22, 2020 05:33 PM

UPDATE: The Department of Labor clarified Wednesday evening that while it’s hoping to start paying claimants right away, the majority of folks applying for PUA will not see their money on Monday. Some might start seeing payments early next week but most will not as DOL works to process the claims. If you have a “pending” status, keep checking the DOL website for updates.  

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s been weeks of frustration and worry for New Yorkers trying to file for unemployment and while the system may finally be catching up for some, there are still major issues for many. 

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Typically, those who are self-employed do not qualify for unemployment benefits in New York State but the federal Stimulus Bill extended benefits to them under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. The money to fund the benefits is funneled through the New York State Department of Labor.  

Sean Pronti is a barber in Webster. When he was deemed non-essential in mid-March he filed for unemployment assistance. 

“Hundreds and hundreds of calls a day to get through, long story short, I got through, spoke to someone and my claim was processed,” he told News10NBC.  

Or so he thought.  

Danielle Karns, who works at a bigger salon in Gates, thought the same thing.

“It took me over a week to get through,” Karns said. 

But since they filed, there’s been no money and no information from the state on when to expect it, “I don't know a single self-employed person that has gotten a dime,” Pronti said.

“There are a few girls that I work with that are single moms and what are they going to do if they're a single mom and their children are home from school, they don't have income coming in that we're used to, what do you do,” Karns said.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked about the issue at his press briefing on Wednesday:

Governor Cuomo: "You will be paid."

Reporter: "They can't wait for the money, they're out of money."

Governor Cuomo: "We're talking about a couple of days lag on the unemployment insurance and they will get the check from the date of unemployment, it does not cost them an extra penny."

But the Governor seems to be missing the point.

“Him, living in his position, he doesn't live paycheck to paycheck,” Pronti said.

“You could say that we need to prepare better for this but most of us live paycheck to paycheck, let's be real,” Karns added.

When pushed on the issue, Governor Cuomo said, “go take a job as an essential worker, do it tomorrow.”  

Karns thinks that suggestion is insensitive.

“He suggested go apply for a job, well I have two children at home, they're out of school,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Labor told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke that those who’ve filed for PUA should start seeing benefits on Monday adding: 

“Many of the people in the pending category will start to see their benefits being paid as a result of the streamlined application and the implementation of PUA on Monday. Again, because of the cumbersome federal guidelines states did not have the ability to implement the process sooner, and many states are still struggling with how to implement it. Because this was just implemented on Monday, and this is a brand-new assistance program, that has never been offered before, we will have a more accurate number of how many PUA applications we have received, how many individuals have qualified, and how many are receiving benefits under the PUA program, as opposed to regular UI, by the end of this week. So for those who are in the pending category and have already applied for PUA, representatives are currently processing those applications around the clock to get those New Yorkers paid. They do not need to do anything further, unless DOL needs more information from them.”


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