Nearly 1 in 4 San Diegans are unemployed because of the pandemic. While the federal government has stepped up to help people out of work, many say they have fallen through the cracks.
The federal government created a new temporary relief program called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program through the CARES Act that is meant to help self-employed people and independent contractors get financial assistance. However, many Californians are saying they are being forced to only get assistance for the small amount of income they made through the jobs they had a W-2 for.
Kelley Dukat calls herself a hybrid worker. She does event planning, rideshare driving and has worked traditional seasonal jobs at stores and for sports teams around town. Like many Californians, she has both 1099 and W-2 forms when it comes time to file her taxes.
"We had no direction when we were filing. The state didn't know. They said we’re waiting for the federal government, and nobody really knew what was happening," she said.
Right now, she's struggling because of the stay-at-home order. She filed for unemployment insurance with her W-2 and is receiving $93 per week based on the money she made months ago.
"It's not fair because someone who has all W-2 income from the year gets their full benefit or someone who makes all $60,000 on 1099 gets a full benefit, but those of us who are hybrid seem to get punished," she said.
Unfortunately, the CARES Act does not allow anyone with a W-2 in the past 18 months to file for both unemployment insurance and pandemic unemployment assistance.
"You certainly are hearing from individuals who are in a quandary because if they do unemployment insurance only, the amount they're going to get from the state is pretty low and they can't do the PUA, and they can't do both, so again Congress is the only one that can fix this," said Adam Rosenthal, a partner with Sheppard Mullin and co-author of Employer's Guide to COVID-19 and Emerging Workplace Issues.
Almost 2,000 hybrid workers in California have signed a petition on Change.org asking the government to consider giving them the option to file for pandemic unemployment assistance if their self-employed income is higher than the income they make in their traditional jobs.