PHOENIX - 95,382 Arizonans filed for unemployment last week bringing the total to nearly 350,000 since COVID-19 became widespread.
However, there might be many more Arizonans out there that haven’t been able to file for unemployment yet because the federal government has not approved payments to self-employed residents in the state.
FOX 10 highlighted last month when state and federal officials said self-employed people may be able to receive unemployment. But, the problem is, a month later and they still can’t.
Jeremy Iverson is one of those self-employed Arizonans who cannot claim unemployment.
He owns Semper Fi Limo.
"The company I have is just me. I’m the only driver so I have to supplement with Uber and Lyft and I’ve been doing that four years full time," Iverson said.
When COVID-19 became wide spread, his jobs ended like hundreds of thousands of other Arizonans.
He says it's been "very hard because there’s no work because people aren’t doing anything, which is understandable."
To help out Arizonans, Governor Doug Ducey announced mid March, self-employed and gig workers, like rideshare drivers, will soon be able to apply for a federal unemployment benefit through the state's Department of Economic Security (DES).
So Iverson and his friends filed.
"I thought 'great,' but nobody’s seen it yet," he said. "Denial denial denial denial."
He got a letter saying to wait for more information.
So what should self-employed people do right now? The DES website says Arizonans are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, but they do encourage self-employed people to apply right now.
Federal Emergency Management Agency says Arizona hasn’t been approved for unemployment assistance for self-employed people and the president would need to sign off on it, which hasn’t happened yet.
"People are hurting, they just want answers," Iverson said. "Do I get it or not, do I get some sort of help or not?"
DES has not answered yet when it expects to receive approval for self-employed people.