LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– It’s been months and Simone F.M. Spinner is still unable to get her unemployment. We started talking with her in March, when she was applying for help as a gig worker.
“I work in hospitality and wine and academia, tourism. All of those industries have just been decimated.”
At first when she applied for unemployment, the state was trying to get a system up and running to provide assistance to gig workers like Simone, who gets the majority of her income from freelance work.
“I understand back when I talked to you in March that these difficulties were happening and gig employers, gig employees were never able to apply before but they’ve had six months to figure this out.”
And still, she’s having troubles.
The State of Colorado said it had fixed the tool many people were stymied by as they tried to apply for help recently.
“The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) re-launched its online and telephone certification functions for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment benefits program after technical difficulties,” wrote chief communications officer Cher Roybal Haavind in a statement.
The online and phone system had been down since Monday, overwhelmed with requests. But the problems with that system are only part of the frustrations for many people like Simone, who have been unable to get benefits.
“I still haven’t been able to file correctly to get the gig work section of the money of the employments benefits because of the one W2 that I have,” she said.
She has not gotten benefits since July when her initial unemployment help exhausted. Less than a quarter of her income came from part-time teaching work. That meant receiving a W2. Most of her income was freelancing for which the government indicated all she had to do was show proof of income from recent tax returns. But her attempts to get onto the system as a worker with both types of income have been frustrated time after time. So she’s called, a lot.
“It’s been a complete nightmare,” she said.
On July 25, she entered into a cue for a callback about her problems. Her appointment time: Oct. 26 at 10 a.m.
“And it’s a 10-minute call.”
The unemployment system has had troubles dealing with unique situations. Simone owns a home, but is concerned as she runs out of money.
“I am worried about losing my house. I’m worried about not being able to find a job.”
She has applied for over 150 jobs with no success. Those include many out of her industry.
“I’ve applied for everything from working at Starbucks to working as a writer for nonprofits and everything in between, Costco. Just about anything I can find,” she told us.
But her advanced degree, a doctorate, may be a problem with potential employers thinking she won’t stay. Now, she waits for the system to work for her as a pandemic cripples her industry.