Kentucky's self-employed, independent contractors apply for unemployment

Posted at 8:02 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 21:15:58-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After Gov. Andy Beshear's announcement that the State would open up unemployment insurance benefits to self-employed and independent contractors, Kentucky workers started to apply.

Beshear said people who received eligibility on Wednesday should file Thursday. That is exactly what hairdresser, Ann Lowery, did. However, she had a hard time getting through.

Her fellow hairdressers said they also found the process frustrating.

Lowery tried again Friday and was met with a series of challenges.

The website said the server was busy and when that problem was cleared up, she was asked several questions she didn't know how to answer on the application.

For example, the application asked who her employer was. As an independent contractor, Lowery said that question did not apply to her. The confusion made her believe she may be in the wrong application and she was fearful of doing something wrong.

"I'm afraid if I fill it out this way it will get caught up in the red tape, and I can't go back and do it again," Lowery said.

She called two phone numbers listed on the State's website to get advice, but no one answered either call.

Then, a fellow hairdresser, Cynthia, called and said her sister is an accountant who helped her through the process.

Cynthia then did the same with Lowery. Within a few minutes, Lowery received confirmation that her first payment would be processed on April 9.

Lowery said she was relieved to get the help, but she also understands that she has many more hurdles to overcome ahead.

At a press conference Saturday, Governor Beshear addressed the problem. “We want you to file for unemployment,” Governor Beshear said. “We are working on our system each and every day. It’s entirely new that you are eligible for it and every issue let us know or let the media know and we will work to resolve it.”

The Deputy Secretary for the KY Education and Workforce Cabinet, Josh Benton, added, “They’re still able to file and we’re fixing those things on the back end of the application. Even though it may tell them right now that they don’t have the right wages or something like that to qualify, we’re still processing their claim and they’ll still be paid for that claim.”