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Waiting for help: assistance for part-time, self-employed workers delayed

Posted at 8:24 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 23:26:28-04

PRESCOTT, AZ — There are many Arizonans who have lost their jobs but don't qualify for unemployment because the make too little to qualify.

Misty Schuler, of Prescott, lost her part-time job at Golden Coral on March 19. She says she applied for unemployment benefits almost immediately.

She was denied a few days later.

"I was really surprised I didn’t get help. We're all Arizonians so I thought we would all get help," she said.

Schuler found out she does not make enough money to be eligible for unemployment payments in Arizona.

"Because I make 390 times less than the Arizona minimum-wage," she said.

Schuler applied a second time. She was denied again.

"I don’t know what I’m gonna do. End up in my car? I don’t know. Homeless? I don’t know. I’m scared. I’m afraid. Try not to cry," she said.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) told ABC15, part-time workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits could qualify for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA), but were still waiting for guidance from the US Department of Labor (DOL).

That was nearly two weeks ago.

On Monday we followed up with the DOL and DES.

We found out DES now has the guidance it was waiting from from DOL but, "implementation of this provision will require significant system changes. We are accepting applications for PUA, and these initial claims will be processed once the system modifications are in place.”

We're still waiting for a timeline of when that will happen. But DES says people who have already applied for unemployment and have been denied do not need to apply again. And the agency "will be reviewing applications going back to February 2, and will reach out to applicants on any next step."

Schuler is hoping help makes it before it's too late.

"(Decision-makers) They’re eating and they’re making the rent and they’re making their mortgage. People like me, what am I supposed to do? Beg, borrow and steal on the corner for cash? I’m not doing that that’s crazy," she said.

According to DES the following workers may also be eligible for PUA:

  • have exhausted all rights to such benefits
  • are self-employed
  • are seeking part-time employment
  • lack sufficient work history
  • otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or PEUC.

Workers can go to to apply and find out if they qualify.