When the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out almost all of Daniel Herman's coming work, he was hopeful that he would get help from the federal government, NBC News reports.
Herman, 30, a videographer and musician from Boulder, Colorado, believed he would qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, a new federal relief program for self-employed gig workers and independent contractors. The program was designed to support freelancers like Herman, who would not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits.
But four months later, a bureaucratic glitch has kept Herman shut out of the program. The issue is related to one of the jobs Herman had last year, doing sound for live shows at a coffee shop. The shop put him on the payroll rather than pay him as a freelancer. Even though Herman earned only about $2,600 for the work, a small fraction of his total income for the year, it was enough to punt him into Colorado's traditional unemployment system and disqualify him from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
U.S. & World
"It's like there's this huge carrot dangling in front of my face, but it's a few inches away from me and I can't reach it," Herman said. "This bill was written to help support gig workers, but this just seems like a huge oversight."
Legal experts, policy analysts and entertainment industry leaders believe that thousands of freelancers and gig workers are in a similar position, shut out of the PUA program because they earned a small amount of traditional wages. The snafu has left many getting far less in weekly benefits than they would through PUA.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com