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Nevada gig workers can file continued claims beginning Saturday, agency says

Updated May 22, 2020 - 3:57 pm

One week after Nevada launched a new web page for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, gig workers, contractors and the self-employed will have the ability to file continued claims.

In her inaugural weekly Friday morning news briefing, Heather Korbulic, the director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system’s ability to process weekly claims is slated to go live Saturday morning, and payments should begin as soon as Wednesday.

The EmployNV website is set to go down after 5 p.m. Friday to integrate the new the PUA system.

“Assuming everything goes well this evening, once the system is stood up as expected, filers can begin filing weekly claims starting this weekend,” Korbulic said.

‘Most complex part’ of PUA 

The PUA is one of three unemployment-related provisions under the $2 trillion stimulus bill approved by Congress and makes independent contractors and self-employed workers eligible for unemployment benefits. The assistance is also made available to gig workers: short-term or temporary workers who usually connect with customers using an online platform such as Uber, Lyft or Instacart.

DETR’s IT and project staff worked through the night on Thursday to integrate “the second and most complex part of the PUA bill,” Korbulic said.

The first part of the website was launched May 16 at employnv.gov. Since then, users have reported a range of technical issues, including CAPTCHA code reading errors.

As of 7 a.m. Friday morning, Korbulic said more than 59,000 Nevadans have successfully filed claims on the system.

Filers should file for each week they’ve been eligible for. Those who have already created an account with DETR’s traditional unemployment insurance benefits system should use their existing login credentials with the PUA claims system.

Those who have successfully submitted a PUA claim should get a receipt in the system module.

While the maximum eligibility within PUA is 39 weeks, Nevada Chief Economic David Schwartz said few Nevada filers will see that much assistance.

The program began Feb. 2 in Nevada, Schwartz said, when there were few workers who could say they were unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of COVID-19 — the qualifications for PUA.

“While there’s potentially 16 weeks of benefits (through back pay) available, the maximum we would expect going back is about 10 weeks,” Schwartz said. “That would date benefits for most people about 29 weeks, potentially, going forward.”

The state hit hardest

A Friday report from DETR said Nevada’s unemployment rate nearly hit nearly 30 percent in April. Schwartz said Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest of any state for any month since 1976, when consistent data first became available.

As of May 16, there have been 480,718 total claims filed through the state’s standard UI claims system. Of the eligible filers, 81 percent — 268,593 Nevadans — have been successfully paid. Another 96,205 were found not eligible for standard UI claims.

The state has paid out about $1.6 billion in unemployment benefits over the last two months.

Despite nearly 47,000 claims still pending, Korbulic said Nevada has one of the highest insured unemployment rates in the nation.

“We know there is a lot of work to be done,” she said. “But it is important to note that Nevada is leading among the states, and we have done it with a bare-bones unemployment insurance crew and IT crew.”

For those who have yet to receive benefits because of a pending claim, Korbulic said that they are being held because federal and state laws require DETR to adjudicate each claim.

To help address this issue — and others — DETR is looking to hire. Korbulic said she hopes the department will hire upward of 140 people and expects the number to grow as the state reopens.

The Alorica call center and EmployNV website will both be down Friday evening but will remain open on Memorial Day.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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