KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re self-employed, you can now apply for unemployment benefits in Missouri.
For thousands across the state, staying home means shutting down. Normally, unemployment benefits are out of reach for the self-employed.
But two gig workers told FOX4 they’re grateful for the opportunity to file now, even if it’s not the simplest process.
Rebecca Lassiter runs her own photography studio.
“I’m going to try to do that today,” Lassiter said. “I started the process two days ago and just stopped because it’s so frustrating.”
Jason Falen is known through Kansas City as DJ Hydan.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s really confusing,” Falen said.”Especially as a self-employed gig worker when you go to file. It’s not, it’s not like set up and designed for, for somebody like me or a self-employed gig worker. It’s just, it’s really confusing.”
Both are out of work and trying to stay busy. They said filing through the state’s website hasn’t been easy.
“I think the process needs to be a little bit more cut and dry,” Falen said. “I think it’s definitely very confusing. All of us DJs and gig workers have been trying to communicate and work together on this and try to figure out what to do, and we’re all in the dark here. We really have no idea.”
The recently approved CARES Act makes it possible for Lassiter, Falen and countless other self-employed workers to qualify for pandemic unemployment insurance.
Missouri’s Department of Labor says the self-employed can receive up to $320 per week along with a one-time $600 federal supplement. They would only be eligible for assistance from March 29 to July 25.
Lassiter and Falen said the money will help, but they really want to work.
“It’ll be everything,” Lassiter said. “I’ll be sustainable again. I’ll be working my business, and I’ll be exhausted from working so much again.”
“We just need to hunker down still,” Falen said. “We’re going to be through this before we know it. If we all just do our part — and everybody needs to do their part — and we’ll be back to normal hopefully no time.”
Lassiter said she wants the thousands of people across the state, and millions nationwide, to know that they aren’t alone.
“This is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Lassiter said. “We’re all in this, the photography community specifically. Everyone is talking about unemployment: When is the right time to file, how to file? What loans are out there? Joining a network like that has been encouraging to see that I’m not in this alone and you’re not in this alone.”
In Kansas, self-employed workers will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits eventually. According to the state’s Department of Labor, it’s working on a program to distribute benefits to the self-employed.