Self-employed North Carolinians struggle with unemployment claims

Self-employed North Carolinians struggle with unemployment claims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolinians filing for unemployment are frustrated with a system that doesn’t work for their situations.

Under normal circumstances people who are self-employed wouldn’t qualify for unemployment insurance in North Carolina but thanks to federal funding and a new state law they do. That doesn’t mean the system is any easier for them to navigate.

Carol Lynn Fox runs Blue Ribbon K9 Academy. She’s the owner and the sole employee.

“I mostly train dogs in home, private lessons,” Fox said.

The stay-at-home made it impossible to do her job. She filed for unemployment midway through March.

“Of course the system is so overwhelmed you get error messages, you can’t complete the application,” Fox said.

Her claim couldn’t be accepted until North Carolina received federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds. Eventually she received unemployment benefits for the weeks she didn’t have clients but eventually she hit a snag in the system.

“It’s the weekly certification they have flagged somehow to be reviewed.”

She tried calling and even sent a fax but could never get through. She says the issue is for people like her who are self-employed and an online claim system that isn’t designed for their circumstance.

“The situation of being self-employed which is unusual for the system I understand that but there’s no way for us to resolve what’s happening,” Fox said.

WBTV emailed The North Carolina Division of Employment Security and told them about Fox’s problems. A spokesperson never responded to WBTV’s questions but Friday Fox emailed WBTV saying she received a call from a DES employee. As she expected, it was a question she answered about being self-employed that tripped her up but that the funds would be released Friday.

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