CHANDLER, AZ — Arizona officials are still figuring out how to implement the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
It is part of the CARES Act that is supposed to provide financial assistance specifically for workers who are usually deemed ineligible for regular unemployment benefits including gig economy workers, part-time workers, people with limited work history, and self-employed workers.
Karen Scherer of Chandler says she should qualify. She has owned Loving Hands Pet Care since 2005. The pet sitting business relies heavily on vacation and business travelers.
"My business has totally dried up since March 12 and as a result there’s no money coming in," she said.
After being informed of her ineligibility to receive unemployment benefits, she says when PUA was passed in late March she thought it would be a lifeline. Now she says without any information from DES about the program, she doesn't know what to do.
"I just feel that we’ve just been left...left to fend for ourselves."
On April 13 DES spokesman Brett Bezio told ABC15 the agency was "still evaluating guidance from DOL (US Dept. of Labor)" and that "implementation of this provision will require significant system changes."
He also referred us to the DES website. It's a website Karen says she is very familiar with.
"Every single morning I go on the website to see if there’s any more information. If there’s an application. If there’s another application, then we have to fill out. Every single morning again there’s nothing," she said.
We followed up with DES on Tuesday to find out any new information about the PUA program. Is there a target roll out date? How will they inform workers of eligibility? Through email? Phone call? A letter?
DES did not provide a response to any of ABC15's questions.
"I am so disappointed in our government," she said.
And she's afraid she'll have to figure her way through this crisis alone.
"That’s where our country is at right now. It’s up to us to figure this all out. It's survival of the fittest," she said.