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Self-employed workers seek better communication with DETR

 Independent Consultant Debra Ward lost her job April 2, 2020 because of COVID-19 and says she feels helpless when trying to get specific answers from DETR. 
Independent Consultant Debra Ward lost her job April 2, 2020 because of COVID-19 and says she feels helpless when trying to get specific answers from DETR.  (KOLO)
Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 6:17 PM PDT
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Outrage, fury, and devastation are the words KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond is hearing from self-employed workers waiting for unemployment benefits from Nevada's Department of Employment Training. and Rehabilitation (DETR).

They say these feelings stem from one problem-- communication.

Independent consultant Debra Ward agreed to sit down with Bond at her home.

"Debra, it's been more than ten weeks since you lost your job through no fault of your own because of the pandemic. How are you holding up?"

"I'm frustrated (the strongest word she is using to describe her relationship with DETR) along with tens of thousands of people. We're frustrated. We can't get through. We're disconnected everyday. This isn't working. I gave up calling. I'm not going to call anymore. I'm disconnected every five minutes for 8 hours a day," Ward.

Feelings like this across Nevada has led people to search for answers on their own.

Facebook group "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Self-Employed" now has more than 11,000 members. It's made up of people helping each other. No one from DETR is associated with this Facebook page in an official way.

DETR's official Facebook page has 3,274 followers.

Scrolling through DETR's Facebook page Ward said, "So here's the DETR Facebook page and there's comments on these videos, but nobody from DETR is responding to them. It's just people just trying to respond and help each other. There's no back and forth. They're not answering specific questions. Um. It's as if somethings being hidden. It's not transparent. Yeah, there's 136 comments here. When you go to the PUA (the unofficial Facebook page) Um there's thousands of people talking," Ward.

"Has anyone seen any changes today. I'm offering $50 to anyone that will three way call me. If they get through," writes one person in the unofficial PUA Facebook page.

"Can you tell me about initially applying for benefits. How did that go?" Bond.

"There's a problem with backdating on case after case after case after case. I've kind of put two and two together. This website didn't come up properly because for some people it's automatically backdating."

Members in this Facebook group are finding the problem is being fixed automatically.

Ward is offering her best guess as to what is happening, "How did that happen? It just appeared OK there's the answer to the question DETR knows that there's a problem and they're going through I don't know how many cases to try to correct the problem."

"Debra, going on the news can be difficult. Why did you decide to talk with me today?" Bond.

"We are completely helpless. We can't call. So my question is, why can't they call us? Why can't adjudication set 30 minutes aside a day and call us? Set an appointment, find out what's wrong with our case, and fix it," Ward.

DETR Director Heather Korbluic gives a news conference every Friday at 10:00 a.m.

Last week she revealed more than 47,000 people have received PUA benefits, but many people waiting for this aid tell Bond these news conferences aren't good enough because questions are read from emails sent in prior to the meeting and there is no back and forth interaction or followup questions.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020

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