Like much else during the current virus-related turmoil, prospects for getting unemployment benefits in New Mexico seem to change by the day.
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions since last week has had special rules in place for unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department is seeking federal approval to enable it to offer unemployment benefits to the estimated 62,000 self-employed people who are not eligible for traditional jobless benefits, according to a news release.
“We are not allowed to issue payments to self-employed people or extend benefits to those who have exhausted their benefits until the federal government activates the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program,” Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said in an interview.
Workforce Solutions on Tuesday sent a formal request to President Donald Trump to activate the disaster assistance program.
Under rules in place since last week, workers who can show they were laid off because of COVID-19 do not have to demonstrate they are looking for a job for four weeks. This also applies to workers who are self-quarantined, are directed to be quarantined or who have immediate family who are quarantined, as well as workers who have their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19, according to Workforce Solutions.
The Santa Fe unemployment office is open by appointment only. “We really encourage people to use the 24/7 website,” McCamley said. “You can pretty much do everything online.”