NAPLES, Fla. — The last few years have been tough for Stacey Deiken. Her husband Keith died from a chronic lung disease three years ago. But, she stayed resilient. She opened her very own medical massage business in Naples to provide for herself.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing her to close her business. She received a stimulus check, but her unemployment application and appeal were both denied by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“I’ve borrowed money from pretty much everybody I can think of - my sister, my girlfriend,” she said.
A hard road got even bumpier when her father passed away in April. And, because of the pandemic she didn’t get to see him before he died or give him a funeral.
But, she says there have been signs of hope along the way. She says her clients have been generous enough to pay in advance for massages they’ll get in weeks or even months to come.
“It kind of makes me want to cry…but it’s really hard,” she said holding back tears Friday morning.
She says even with all the help she’s getting it’s still not enough to pay rent for her business, considering her landlord won’t give her an extension.
So, Fox 4 got some advice from a certified public accountant who says Dieken was denied because she’s self-employed. Someone who is self-employed is likely a better match for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The accountant advised Dieken to log into Florida’s Connect website and see if she has a notification to apply for PUA instead. Something she says she desperately needs right now.
“What would break my heart is if after all this hard work, you know, you just have to close your shop, and then do what? I don’t even know what I would do,” she said.
If you’re self-employed and apply for the state’s pandemic unemployment assistance that automatically submits your application for federal assistance, too. you could get about $875 a week for up to nine months.