Out Of Work Because Of Coronavirus: Full-Time Freelance Writer

Apr 21, 2020

Credit Courtesy Dan Epstein

"It just seems like the whole system was set-up to fail us."

Name: Dan Epstein
Age: 53
Location: Greensboro
Job Status: Full-time freelance writer, unsure of where his next paycheck will come from. His writing is primarily on music, pop culture, and baseball. In good years Dan has made $70,000, more recently it has been about half that.
Healthcare: Coverage through his wife's job at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Most worried about: 

His parents, in New York State: “I’m checking in with them every day. And my worst nightmare is they get ill and I can’t go see them or be with them.” His dad and stepmother are both in New York City, “Both are pretty high-risk, dealing with chronic and critical ailments.” His mom lives in Upstate New York.

Cash flow: “As far as we’re concerned, just not having any income coming in. I’m just trying to take it day-by-day because that’s really all I have control over. But when I start thinking about what this could mean, in the bigger picture a month, two months, six months down the road – it’s a pretty scary rabbit hole to go down … Right now we can afford a roof over our head, and we can afford to keep the fridge filled. Six months from now, if things continue, I don’t know that that’s going to be the case.”

Experience seeking unemployment benefits:

“So far that hasn’t gone well.” Dan’s unemployment application was rejected. North Carolina does now provide unemployment to self-employed, independent contractors, or gig workers, among other classifications of work. “Self-employed individuals are not considered full members of the economy, which I think is ridiculous,” Dan explains.

He may be eligible for up to $600/week of federal unemployment benefits, from the $2 trillion Cares Act. However, “I have no idea. I don’t know if I need to re-apply, or if my initial application will be reconsidered.

“There are emails I’ve sent that are getting no response. I’m not sure where I’m supposed to be applying. I would definitely classify it as frustrating. It’s maddening. I understand that this is an unprecedented situation, but any system is going to feel the strain. But it seems like even so, the bureaucracy was caught with its pants down.”