Boren seeks answers, relief for self-employed Oklahomans who have received no unemployment benefits

OKLAHOMA CITY — Unemployed Oklahomans who are self-employed rallied at the state Capitol Monday wanting answers to why their claims have not been fulfilled after weeks of waiting. Sen. Mary Boren has been working tirelessly trying to get answers as many unemployed Oklahomans are facing eviction and other financial troubles.
“Being that the state has already received its federal unemployment funds, I don’t understand why these citizens aren’t getting their benefits,” Boren said. “It’s beyond frustrating that our citizens, through no fault of their own had to close their businesses because of the health crisis yet haven’t received the unemployment benefits they were promised. Something must be done immediately so these people don’t lose their homes, cars, or have to close their businesses permanently and experience complete financial ruin.”
Boren said her office has been inundated with calls and e-mails of Oklahomans who have not received any unemployment benefits, cannot get through to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) to get an update on their case, or if they do get through are told someone will get back to them but never does.
Three types of unemployment are currently available to self-employed Oklahomans, gig workers, independent contractors and those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is available to those who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits. PUA benefits became available at the end of April.
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUA) will begin this week and will provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits (through the week ending Dec. 26) to those who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits.
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides an additional $600 per week to all eligible Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants through the week ending July 25.
The Norman senator cited a survey from the Oklahoma Self-Employed Professionals, a group of private citizens who have received no PUA assistance and are demanding accountability from the OESC, the governor and other state leaders. The survey included responses from more than 300 Oklahomans.