ORLANDO, Fla. —  Since mid-March, thousands of Floridians have grown more frustrated with the constant errors of the state’s unemployment system.

Complaints are common, most pointing to a website that’s not functioning and call centers that can’t be reached.


What You Need To Know


As thousands have shared their pleas for help through phone calls, emails, and social media posts, Spectrum News has been pushing for weeks for answers from Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Governor Ron DeSantis, his team, and other state leaders.

As an effort to address some of the most prominent concerns, we are providing answers to marquee questions based upon our reporting and conversations with various state leaders.

DEO made public a dashboard showing the number of claims submitted, verified, processed and paid. More than 2 million people have submitted claims since March 15. You can see the latest numbers on the DEO website.

Spectrum News continues to press Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity on various issues. In response, DEO has published its own guide, with a series of additional questions and answers, which we’ve included below. 

Please note that every situation is unique, therefore the most important advice will remain that you discuss your individual situation with Florida Department of Economic Opportunity via FloridaJobs.org or calling 1-800-204-2418.

FILING FAILURES (and Fixes)

The most common trouble most people are having is the state’s unemployment system is simply not working. Often times it is "down."

Others complain they can’t reach call center operators to verify their identity, reset account PINs, or even ask about their case.

THE FIXES

DeSantis signed three Executive Orders related to unemployment, of which some are still in effect, while others are not.

Executive Order 20-104 waives the requirement that individuals have to report biweekly unemployment. As of May 11, 2020, applicants are again REQUIRED to log into the CONNECT system every two weeks to claim benefits and verify weeks not worked.

Two other executive orders also waived the one-week waiting period, meaning individuals may apply for benefits effectively immediately upon being laid off/furloughed/etc. The executive order waiving the one-week waiting period is in effect through September 5, 2020.

The executive order waiving the work search requirement is in effect through September 5, 2020.

Q: I heard the waiting week for Reemployment Assistance has been waived, what does this mean?

A: Governor DeSantis waived the requirement to wait a week to receive Reemployment Assistance benefits beginning March 29, 2020 through September 5, 2020. The waiting week has been waived so eligible Floridians may receive the support they need to help recover from the current economic impacts of COVID-19.

Previously, after your claim was filed and accepted, the state of Florida required a “waiting week” during which no benefits could be paid. (Source: DEO)

Q: I heard work search requirements were waived, what does this mean?

A: Governor DeSantis has waived the work search requirement for individuals filing an application for benefits from March 15, 2020 until September 5. When completing the application, you will be asked questions about your ability and availability to look for work for the weeks of unemployment you are claiming.

If you did not search for work due to the waiver, you may select “no” when asked if you looked for work that week. After selecting no, proceed through the next steps in the process. If you answered that you did not search for work, you will not be asked to complete a work search log.

However, you will be asked additional questions that need to be answered to proceed to the next step in the process. Example questions may include: why did you not search for work; did you not have transportation; did you not have child care; or were you out of the area? If you did search for work, you may be asked to complete a work search log. (Source: DEO)

YOUR QUESTIONS

NOTE: Our guide of questions and answers are lengthy. If you’re searching for a specific circumstance trying searching the page for a keyword(s) by pressing the “ctrl” + “F” keys simultaneously on your keyboard. 

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Applying and Qualifying for Florida Benefits

How do I apply for unemployment?

There are currently three ways to apply for unemployment in Florida.

CONNECT: This process is for those who already have an account created, have previously applied, or previously received state benefits.

PEGASUS: This process is for those who have never applied for or received state benefits. 

PAPER: Individuals may also choose to file for unemployment benefits by paper, of which there are two ways to submit your paper application.

Individuals may mail paper applications directly to FDEO:

  • P.O. Box 5350
    Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350

Individuals may also go to any FedEx location in Florida where they will print out a paper application and send it to Tallahassee on your behalf, free of charge.

NOTE: In order to submit an application you will need:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s License or State ID number
  • Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer:
    • FEIN number (this is found on your W2 or 1099 tax form), if available
    • Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number
    • First and last day of work 
    • Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) covering the last 18 months
    • Reason for separation 

If you are one of the following, make sure you have this additional information available:

  • Not a U.S. Citizen: Alien Registration Number or other work authorization for
  • Military employee: Copy of your DD-214 Member 4 if you do not have the Member 4, then a copy of your Member 2-7 may be used
  • Federal employee: SF-8 or SF-50
  • Union member: Union name, hall number, and phone number

Who qualifies for State of Florida unemployment?

There are State of Florida unemployment benefits that are separate from federal benefits provided through the CARES Act.

To qualify for state benefits ($275/week for 12 weeks):

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own, so you must not have quit for personal reasons or been terminated for misconduct 
  • You must be totally or partially unemployed
  • You must have a minimum amount of wages earned in what is called the "base period," which is the first 12 months of the past 15 months from when you filed your claim
  • You must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work (this requirement is currently waived). This includes being physically able to perform a job and having child care if necessary.

What if I quit my job because I did not feel safe working during the pandemic?

According to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, when reviewing your claim, they will look at how and why you left your job. For example:

  • Ability and Availability Issues: In addition to reviewing why you lost your employment, we will look at whether you are able to work in another job. If you are not available to accept a job if one is offered, you will not qualify for benefits.
  • Discharge: If you were fired from your job, we will look at the reasons why. Your employer must show that it had just cause to let you go, such as misconduct on the job or that you didn’t try to do your duties successfully even though the employer tried to help you.
  • Voluntary Quit: If you voluntarily quit your job, you must show that you quit your job for good cause.
  • There are other factors that may impact your eligibility that we will ask you about. The most important thing for you to do is to answer all questions as accurately as possible. Always know that you can ask us questions at any time during the process by calling 1-800-204-2418.

What is the “base period”?

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says that to qualify for state benefits, you must have a minimum amount of wages earned in what’s called the “base period”, which is the first 12 months of the past 15 months from when you filed your claim.

Why are you asking about my old employer? I have worked somewhere else, and I am not filing against them.

All employers during the last 18 months are reviewed and contacted regarding your employment. You cannot choose which employer is part of your RA claim. Please respond to all requests for information to ensure timely processing.

What if my employer fails to respond?

If they fail to respond to a request for information by their deadline, a determination will be made with the available information.

I previously filed for Reemployment Assistance (more than 12 months ago), do I need to file another claim? 

Yes.

I have already filed within the last year; do I need to file another claim?

If your previous claim has a remaining balance and has not expired, you need to file a “Reopen” request after logging into your CONNECT account. This is a shortened application to update your work history since your original application was filed. Once completed, any recent employment will be reviewed, and weeks of benefits will be scheduled for you to claim.

How do I backdate my claim?

For state benefits, you’re supposed to be able to modify your claim online using the Request to Modify Claim form.

As for PUA federal benefits, DEO said these are automatically being backdated. Further clarity is needed from DEO.

How do I check the status of my application?

After your Reemployment Assistance application has been processed, you will be notified of your eligibility. See below for the communication methods for each application.

If you submitted a paper application: You will receive notification via email or by mail after your application has been processed with a temporary PIN so you can access your account and see the status of your claim.

If you submitted an online application at FloridaJobs.org: You will receive notification via email or by mail after your application has been processed with a temporary PIN so you can access your account and see the status of your claim.

If you submitted an online application through CONNECT: You will receive confirmation in the CONNECT system that your application has been submitted. Once your application has been processed and your eligibility has been determined, you may receive benefits. You have the option to appeal your determination if it negatively impacts you.

When and how will I get my PIN for CONNECT if I applied through the new online application or on paper?

Once your application is received and reviewed, the Department will be in contact with you, either by phone, email or mail.

What does "Eligibility Redetermined" mean?

"Eligibility Redetermined" simply means your claim has been reviewed again to ensure accuracy and proper information, and payout amount. 

Why does my application status say I am ineligible?

There are many reasons you may be deemed ineligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits. This includes incomplete or inaccurate information. If you have incomplete or inaccurate information, the department will reach out to assist you in completing your application.

Please review the eligibility section of this Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide for more information.

What does inactive status mean?

The department is reviewing the accounts that are deemed eligible but have an inactive status. You do not need to go in and change anything in your account.

Why is my claim still pending?

If your status says pending, the department is still reviewing and processing your application. You do not need to take any action on your account at this time.

What does “pending” mean?

Pending means the application is still being processed and looked into to determine if you qualify or not.

Some applicants are getting a claim status that shows “Not Registered”. What does this mean?

Not registered means the claim is not submitted or not complete. The claimant should log into CONNECT and complete their application. 

What does “resolved / complete” mean?

This is a status seen on the Pegasus website (FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication). This simply means that your information has been submitted to Department of Economic Opportunity. It is important to know that this is NOT an actual application, but merely a place holder website. You are providing basic personal information to get a place in line.

Once you submit your information via the Pegasus website or paper application, DEO says the next step is to wait for a DEO representative to contact you in writing or by phone to verify additional information so they can continue to process your claim.

What does "Hold" on an account mean?

Per DEO: "If someone sees “hold” on their account, this means that information was flagged that needs further review from DEO. This could include that they have received wages or went back to work."

What does "Excess Reductions" mean on an account?

Per DEO: "If someone sees “excess reductions” on their account, this means they have earned more than the weekly benefits amount. As a reminder, it is important to double check that you are reporting wages in the correct week. We have seen many people put wages in the wrong week which can cause payments to stop."

What is the consequence if a person tries to “claim benefits” but are unable to get into the system to claim those benefits by the deadline?

Per DEO: "If you miss the deadline shown in CONNECT to claim your weeks/request benefits for Reemployment Assistance, you still have the opportunity to claim your weeks.

"You should be aware if you are late claiming your weeks that it could lead to a delay in payment. DEO encourages you to log into CONNECT and check your account regularly and take action when prompted. If you were late to claim weeks, you can contact the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and a representative will be able to assist you."

Why some claimants receiving outdated letters from DEO, and what is the impact of the outdated deadlines prescribed in the letters?

Per DEO: "As you know, the department’s number one priority is getting Floridians paid. The department will continue to be flexible in situations such as these, where individuals may have received letters that were sent later than intended, as our main focus was on getting people paid.

"In a circumstance such as this, an individual would be able to present the delayed receipt of the letter during their appeal."

NOTE: Follow up about processing of these letters remains unanswered at this time.

How do I get a password?

After your Reemployment Assistance application has been processed, you will be notified of your eligibility. See below for the communication methods for each application.

If you submitted a paper application: You will receive notification via email or by mail after your application has been processed with a temporary PIN so you can access your account and see the status of your application.

If you submitted an online application through FloridaJobs.org: You will receive notification via email or by mail after your application has been processed with a temporary PIN so you can access your account and see the status of your application.

If you submitted an online application through CONNECT: During the application process in CONNECT, you will set up your PIN. We encourage you to write it down and keep it in a safe place.

Applying and Qualifying for Federal Unemployment Benefits

Who qualifies for federal benefits under the CARES Act?

While most may qualify for federal benefits ($600/week through week ending July 31, 2020), not all will qualify for benefits from the state of Florida ($275/week for 12 weeks).

It’s important to note that CARES Act provides $600 per week to qualified individuals for weeks claimed starting March 29, 2020, ending the week of July 31, 2020.

Freelancers, self-employed, contractors, 1099 workers, "gig economy" workers such as Uber drivers are examples of those who will not qualify for Florida state benefits, but will qualify for federal benefits.

The CARES Act created three separate programs for unemployment assistance, each offering $600 per week through the week ending July 31, 2020. Note, you may only qualify for one program.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an addition 13 weeks of benefits to those who have already exhausted the regular 12 weeks of benefits under Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Program. PEUC provides individuals up to $275 in weekly benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides benefits for those who do not qualify for state benefits. This includes self-employed, 1099 workers, gig economy workers, etc. The CARES Act provides two levels of benefits under the PUA. The base level is $600 per week. The CARES Act also requires states to provide an additional amount of benefits, at minimum equal to average half-rate of state benefits and a maximum of full benefits. That range in Florida is $126 - $275. As explained, individuals who qualify for PUA will receive at least $600 per week plus $126 - $275 in addition to the $600. The $126 to $275 is based on various factors including work history.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides $600/week for those who also qualify for regular state benefits.

If I qualify only for federal benefits, how do I apply?

Apply for benefits the same way any other individual would apply for Reemployment Assistance benefits, online at FloridaJobs.org. They will fill out the regular Reemployment Assistance application to determine if they are eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits. If they are not eligible, they will be directed to fill out a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application.

What is the duration and maximum amount of benefits I can receive?

Florida’s duration of benefits may adjust based on the state’s unemployment rate, but the maximum amount of benefits remains the same.

In addition, the CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week to the weekly benefit amount until July 31, 2020.

2019 Claim Maximums: 12 weeks

  • Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA): $275
  • Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA): $3300

2020 Claim Maximums: 12 weeks

  • Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA): $275
  • Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA): $3300 

For those trying to apply for PUA or FPEU, what can they do if it’s been more than 72 hours and they still do not see the link to apply for said program?

Per DEO: "We have noticed that a lot of individuals had the PUA or PEUC links and were looking over there. We have made the link bolder to make it easier to see."

"If someone is still not seeing the link and believes they are eligible, they should call the Customer Service Center for assistance."

What is the process for those who have been waiting for months for a PUA link and can’t even apply still and continue to have trouble getting through to the call centers?

Per DEO: Based on the individual responses received on claimant’s Reemployment Assistance application, those who are likely eligible to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) have already been identified and provided a link to apply for PUA benefits. If someone thinks they are eligible for PUA benefits and have not received a link to apply, they should call the Reemployment Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.

They should also read this document regarding eligibility on the Florida Jobs website.

What if a PUA applicant cannot provide answers to each question?

Per DEO:  “Under the PUA guidance, claimants are not required to provide proof of employment. Claimants should provide proof of earnings that shows annual net income. These documents can include, but are not limited to, 2019 Federal tax statements, final pay stubs for 2019, and financial statements.”

“If the supervisor field is required, they can list themselves as their supervisors and that will be sufficient. If it does not show as required, they can leave it blank.

Processing Your Unemployment Application 

How do I know if my application was received? 

There really is no way to know for sure if or when your application is received, especially if submitted by mail.

Once received, they’re supposed to be processed in the order in which they are received. For those who apply via the PEGASUS website or paper application, someone with DEO will reach out to you to verify additional information in order to finish processing the claim and verifying eligibility.

Per DEO:

  • If you submitted a paper application:
    You will receive a phone call, email or letter after your application has been processed. Based on your eligibility, you may receive benefits or you have the option to appeal your determination if it negatively impacts you. 
  • If you submitted an online application through FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication:
    You will receive a phone call, email or letter after your application has been processed. Based on your eligibility, you may receive benefits or you have the option to appeal your determination if it negatively impacts you. 
  • If you submitted an online application through CONNECT:
    You will receive confirmation in the CONNECT system that your application has been submitted. Once your application has been processed and your eligibility has been determined, you may receive benefits or you have the option to appeal your determination if it negatively impacts you. 

Please login to the CONNECT system to check for any updates to your account, respond to any requests for additional. If you have questions or need assistance, contact DEO at 1-800- 204-2418.

How are the applications being processed? 

State leaders are not shy about the overwhelming number of applications being received.

They’re also being received in different, ways, requiring different means of processing.

“We’re receiving paper applications simultaneously with electronic applications,” Secretary Satter said. “Because many (paper applications) are in hand writing, we have to manually transcribe those paper applications into the electronic system and that’s what we have our state employees doing.”

Satter estimates state employees are able to process five to six applications each per hour, up to 10 an hour.

Processing includes verifying a person’s information, work history, and other personal details.

“This system is talking to a wide variety of data sources throughout the country, verifying social security number, doing fraud checks, it is verifying employers, verifying if you live in Georgia but work in Tallahassee, it’s a cross-border issue,” Secretary Satter said. “Even on a good day when claims were low, it could take 10 to 14 days to have the process in the pipeline.”

According to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, once an application is processed, you will be notified of your eligibility in writing or electronically.

  • If you are eligible on all issues, you will receive payment for any weeks that you requested during the bi-weekly process.
  • If you are not eligible, the written determination will explain the reason they denied your claim and will explain your appeal rights.
  • If you disagree with a determination that denies benefits, you may request an appeal hearing.

DEO also says:

When reviewing your claim, we will look to answer several questions that will impact your eligibility. Here are some examples:

  • Ability and Availability Issues: In addition to reviewing why you lost your employment, we will look at whether you are able to work in another job. If you are not available to accept a job if one is offered, you will not qualify for benefits.
  • Discharge: If you were fired from your job, we will look at the reasons why. Your employer must show that it had just cause to let you go, such as misconduct on the job or that you didn’t Reemployment Assistance Frequently Asked Questions 2 try to do your duties successfully even though the employer tried to help you.
  • Voluntary Quit: If you voluntarily quit your job, you must show that the circumstances at work were so bad that you had no choice but to leave, even though you did everything you could to get your employer to solve the problem.

There are other factors that may impact your eligibility that we will ask you about. The most important thing for you to do is to answer all questions as accurately as possible.

Always know that you can ask us questions at any time during the process by calling 1-800-204-2418.

What happens when an employer cannot get into the system to verify employees's claims?

Per DEO: "If an employer is locked out of their account because the incorrect password was entered more than three times, the password will need to be reset.

"If they have added someone else as an administrator, that person can reset the password. Otherwise, they should call the Employer Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY, extension 6.

"If they entered it incorrectly fewer than three times, they can select ‘Forgot Password,’ answer the security questions and a temporary password will be sent to the e-mail address on file."

What if someone cannot claim benefits?

Per DEO: "The Department has identified that some individuals have not been able to claim their weeks. Upon review, many of these individuals have had their claims backdated. In the process of backdating the claims, many of the weeks were put out of order.

"The department is working diligently to resolve this issue. Claimants should continue to claim the weeks that are available, and the Department will work with claimants who are attempting to claim these weeks to ensure they receive payment for all eligible benefits."

What is the process for backdating?

Per DEO: The Department is working to modify the claim effective date for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims. Once the claimant  files for PUA and is determined eligible, the claim effective date can be modified to the week in which he claimant lost their job. If the claimant’s last day of employment fell in the middle of the week, or any day but Sunday, their claim effective date will be backdated to the Sunday immediately preceding the date their job was lost.

As this date is being modified in the CONNECT system, claimants are receiving an email reminding them to request benefits for the weeks that were previously unavailable to request.

I made a mistake on my claim. How do I edit? 

Unfortunately, once an application is submitted, the claimant is not able to make changes themselves. You will need to contact the contact center at 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759) for assistance. (Source: DEO)

How can claimants make quick fixes that are holding up their claim? 

Per DEO: DEO strongly encourages individuals to log-in to CONNECT and ensure all information is accurate and complete. Individuals should also be sure to request their benefits weeks. We would recommend they call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY for additional assistance.

I am missing a piece of information, should I still file? 

Our goal is to assist you in receiving the benefits for which you may be eligible. Missing information may create additional delays in determining your eligibility. (Source: DEO)

Getting Your Benefits

How are my benefits calculated?

  • The wages used to determine your benefit amounts are the first four of the last five calendar quarters. 
  • Claims filed as of April 1, 2020 use wages earned between 01/01/2019 through 12/31/2019. 

Once the state has the wages on record, it verifies the following to determine if you are eligible for benefits: 

  • $3400 minimum gross earnings during base period. 
  • You must have a minimum of two quarters of covered wages. 
  • Total base period gross wages must be more than 1.5x the highest wage quarter. 

Once we complete those checks, the last steps are simple:

  • Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
    WBA is the highest quarter divided by 26 OR the weekly amount $275, whichever is less
  • Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA)
    MBA is your total base period wages divided by 4 OR the yearly maximum, whichever is less

Specifically, for those only qualify for federal benefits, DEO says:

 “The weekly amount of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits is computed in a similar manner as the Reemployment Assistance weekly benefit amount, except the qualifying employment and wage requirements are expanded for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to include wages not typically covered for purposes of computing State reemployment assistance and the minimum weekly benefit amount is different.

"To determine the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Weekly benefit amount for self-employed workers, the base period wages are calculated based on net income.

"The State Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) is the highest quarter in the base period divided by 26 or the maximum weekly amount $275, whichever is less. Additionally, for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, the minimum weekly benefit amount is $125.

"The base period for the COVID-19 Pandemic is January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019.

"These calculations do not benefit the $600 FPUC payment.”

What financial history is used to determine if a person is eligible for benefits? Does a person have to earn X amount?

DEO is using primarily employment data from 2019.

My account says I am inactive. Should I apply in the new application?

Per DEO: No. Only people who have never filed for Reemployment Assistance should file in the new application.

What do I do if I'm missing "waiting week" payments?

Per DEO: In general, the number one reason we see for people not receiving payment is that they have not claimed their weeks. If they have claimed their weeks and are still not receiving payment, we would recommend they call the customer service center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.

How do I claim weeks to ensure I am paid my benefits?

In order to receive unemployment benefits, individuals must "claim benefits" bi-weekly, verifying they are unemployed. A step-by-step guide is available on the Florida DEO website.

Why did $600 federal benefits suddenly stop on May 19?

Per DEO:

"After reviewing several claimant IDs, the Department has identified two technology concerns that may have prevented an individual from receiving their Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment over the last few weeks:

  • "Individuals who requested that their claims be backdated were not included in recent payment files for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments. We are working diligently to ensure these claimants are made whole as quickly as possible.

    "At this time, claimants do not need to do anything but should continue to request benefits as long as they are unemployed or partially unemployed. The department anticipates having the issue resolved quickly and being able to provide these payments to eligible claimants.

  • "Additionally, the department has identified that some claimants were not paid their Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment for their waiting week. The department has identified these individuals and should have them paid their $600 federal payment within 5 business days."

Why did I randomly receive an unemployment benefit in the form of a paper check?

Per DEO: "Yes, and through direct deposit. In an effort to get payments out as quickly as possible, some payments are sent via check."

Any decision on retroactive payments? 

In June, DEO said: "DEO recognizes that Floridians have had a hard time applying for Reemployment Assistance due to no fault of their own.

"If a claimant would like to request to modify their claim filing effective date, they should visit www.FloridaJobs.org and select the link 'Request to Modify Claim (Application) Filing Effective Date.'

"After individuals enter their information through the link, DEO staff uploads each claimant’s information into the CONNECT system as quickly as possible. DEO’s number one priority continues to be getting Floridians paid as quickly as possible."

In April, Florida State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez says he spoke to Secretary Jon Satter. Rodriguez said: “Secretary Satter says that they have not yet decided if retroactivity will be to date of jobs loss or date the applicant tried to apply (I stated it was only date of application). He stated their goal is to maximize the federal and state benefits.” 

Additionally, DEO said CARES Act benefits will be paid retroactively when you become eligible under the CARES Act. The retroactivity is only applicable to the federal CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. 

Will benefits be extended? 

As of June 17, there are conversations, but no real clear indication that unemployment benefits will be extended on a state or federal level.

While Florida has what many have called the “stingiest” unemployment benefits in the nation, there is a state statute that would extend benefits.

If the unemployment rate grows above 5 percent, a week of benefits would be added for every 0.5 percent of rate growth above 5 percent.

There is a maximum payout of 23 weeks.

Here, however is the condition. It’s based upon the unemployment rate and the third fiscal quarter – so the long and short of it is that there will be no extended state benefits before October.

Federally, the U.S. Senate is sitting on the HEROES Act, which could extend the federal $600 weekly benefits to January 2021.

However the White House is pitching a plan to end the program at its current end date of July 31, 2020, and instead roll out a program to “incentivize” returning to the workforce.

What happens when I use 12 weeks of state benefits?

Florida offers a maximum state benefit pay out of $275 per week for 12 weeks. The federal CARES Act benefits currently end the last week of July.

If you exhaust benefits you can still qualify for additional benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) fund.

Per DEO, “PEUC allows up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits for individuals who have exhausted their Reemployment Assistance claim…PEUC will provide individuals with up to $275 in weekly benefits, PLUS FPUC ($600) payments for weeks claimed between March 29, 2020 and July 31, 2020”.

PEUC is the federally funded program for those who exhaust benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is the federal CARES Act program for those who do NOT qualify for state benefits, such as gig workers, self-employed, 1099, contractors, etc. This is the $600 base weekly benefits (base because there are formulas that really provide $725 - $875 per week).

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides $600 per week to those who ALSO qualify for state benefits.

For more information, check out these three sites on PEUC:

What happens if a claim shows zero dollars for income earned?

Per DEO: "For the inquiries we have received regarding this, we have found that the answer varies from Claimant to Claimant and are addressed on a case-by-case basis. Individuals should call our Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose 'Claim Specific' for assistance.

DEO says I have been overpaid benefits in the past. why do I need to repay those benefits now, instead of having deducted from what's currently owed?

Per DEO: "Where a claimant has made a fraudulent statement to obtain benefits, which later results in an overpayment, the claimant will be disqualified for benefits until any overpayment of benefits resulting from such fraudulent representation has been repaid in full. "

Spectrum News is awaiting further clarification as to why deductions are not allowed in non-fraudulent situations.

If a claim is "stalled" how can a person quickly figure out what the issue may be, and how to fix it?

Per DEO: "These individuals should call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose the “Claim Specific” Option. They can also email the RA Contact Us Form. We would encourage these individuals to double check their account for accurate information and continue to claim their weeks."

If a claim is active and eligible but payments have not been received, what should a person do?

Per DEO: "We strongly encourage individuals to check that they are claiming weeks. If they are claiming weeks and still not receiving payment, we would recommend they call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY for additional assistance."

What is the timeline and process for ensuring accounts that have not gotten full benefits are updated and people will receive a revised amount?

Per DEO: DEO is committed to ensuring all eligible Floridians are paid as quickly as possible and will pay all the benefits owed to claimants. The Department continues to address requests for backdating claims. Claimants need to continue to request their weekly benefits.  If an individual thinks they aren’t receiving the correct amount, they can request a monetary reconsideration. Take the steps listed on this document from the Florida Jobs website.

Individual Industry and Technical Questions

How can I reset my PIN to access CONNECT? 

DEO offers two ways to reset a PIN:

On the CONNECT login page, select the “Forgot PIN” option and reset your pin after verifying your information.

The second option is to verify identity by providing a signed copy of your Social Security card and copy of driver’s license/government ID and sending them to:

Update: According to a letter to state lawmakers from Florida state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, he told colleagues, based on a conversation with DMS Secretary Jon Satter, that there are plans “moving forward with an online PIN reset feature (instead of via phone). He told me they’ve made their way through most PIN resets tempered by the fact that a lot of calls are still not making it through because of capacity; and that waiving the re-certification requirement remove the need for a PIN once someone starts receiving benefits; this should significantly reduce call volume.”

How will I know it’s really DEO calling me to talk about my claim and not a potential scammer?

A DEO representative will identify themselves as a representative from the Florida Reemployment Assistance Program and will tell the individual that they’re calling about the individual’s most recent Reemployment Assistance claim. A representative from DEO would never ask a claimant for their PIN number, debit card number or direct deposit information. 

I did not lose my job, but my hours were cut in half, do I still qualify for benefits?

DEO says those whose hours have been “substantially reduced” may likely still be qualified for full or partial benefits. That can only be determined by filing an application for review.

Do airline employees qualify for benefits? 

An employee of any company who is furloughed or lost their job may be able to receive Reemployment Assistance. If an employee has not lost their job, but received a reduction in pay that decision is made between the employee and that company and does not make them immediately eligible for unemployment benefits. Also, if an employee with reduced hours is still making more than $275 per week, they would not be eligible for Reemployment Assistance. 

A Delta spokesperson did tell us:

“As part of Delta’s effort to support our people amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we’re providing resources to help employees who are seeking unemployment insurance after volunteering for leaves of absence. While Delta employees around the country have already been deemed eligible for state unemployment benefits, we’re aware employees are experiencing difficulties in Florida. We know these benefits are important to our people and we’re working closely with the state of Florida to find a solution.”

If a person is furloughed for three weeks and unable to apply for benefits because of the known computer issues, and is later called back to work, will they still be eligible to receive benefits for those three weeks not worked?

According to DEO Communications Director Tiffany Vause, a person would still qualify for benefits for those three weeks worked, but would have to still apply through CONNECT.

If a person is laid off or furloughed and decides to work for a gig economy app company such as Uber or Shipt, are they automatically disqualified for benefits?

Benefits paid are on a case-by-case basis. Getting another job does not automatically disqualify a person from receiving benefits, although if they are earning more than what the benefits would provide they likely would receive little to no benefits.

How are benefits impacted by child support? We are hearing of issues regarding payments not being properly taken out. 

Per DEO: DEO receives a file from the Department of Revenue-Child Support Enforcement that provides a list of claimants with active collection orders and the percentage to be withheld. This percentage is applied to all state benefits received by the listed claimant and the amount is withheld from the benefits paid to the claimant. DEO maintains a daily total of withheld amounts, and each week DEO transfers the withheld amount to the Department of Revenue.

Problems Specifically Related to the CONNECT System (Source: DEO)

What is CONNECT?

CONNECT is Florida’s Reemployment Assistance claims system. CONNECT offers access to apply, file, manage, and review your claim details.

Can I use my mobile device to file a claim or manage my benefits in the CONNECT System?

At this time, mobile devices are not supported with the claims system, CONNECT.

Are there certain requirements or criteria for creating my PIN?

Yes, please make sure your PIN meets the following criteria:

  • Your PIN must be four digits.
  • Your PIN can only be numbers. Letters and symbols are not allowed.
  • Your PIN cannot be the numbers 1111, 9999, 0000, or 1234.
  • Your PIN cannot be the last 4 digits of your social security number. 

Are there any restrictions for the security question answers?

Yes, please make sure your security question answers meet the following criteria:

  • Your answers must use letters and numbers.
  • Special characters are not allowed. (i.e.: $%#@)
  • Your answers must be between 5 and 35 characters in length. 

How can I reset my PIN to access my CONNECT profile?

There are two options to have your pin reset.

After entering your Social Security number on the CONNECT login page, select the “Forgot PIN” option to reset your PIN after verifying your information.

If it is necessary, you can submit documents verifying your identity to the department. Please provide a signed copy of your Social Security card and a copy of your valid driver’s license or state issued ID. These can be sent by fax or email to, Fax: 321-332-6608 or E-mail: IdentityRequest@deo.myflorida.com

If you are unable to reset your PIN through the options above, contact us at 1-833-FL-APPLY (1- 833-352-7759).

I received a technical error in CONNECT. What should I do?

There are two common causes to technical issues with CONNECT:

  • CONNECT is not compatible with mobile devices. CONNECT was designed for desktop computers.
  • CONNECT is most compatible with Internet Explorer, but also works in other internet browsers.

If you continue to receive technical errors after making these adjustments, please contact the department at 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759).

When I enter my Social Security Number, Driver’s License, and/or State ID, the system says the information is not valid. What should I do?

Please verify you are submitting the information exactly as it appears on your documents. If the system continues to report that information is not valid, after your third attempt, the system will accept the information you are providing. If this happens, your claim will be followed-up with a request for you to provide copies of your signed Social Security card and your valid Driver’s License or State issued ID card. The department will use this information to confirm your identity.

Sometimes the CONNECT system tells me to call back later. Why is that? 

"We experience periods of high call volume. If you are unable to reach the department by phone, please submit an e-mail for information regarding your claim. If you have a claim, please use the email address you have provided in CONNECT.

"The Reemployment Assistance contact us form can be found online. We have also opened a live chat service so you can talk directly to a representative online at FloridaJobs.org. "

I’m locked out of my account. It says I need to verify my identity, but no one will answer the phone or respond to my email. What do I do?

Per DEO: "Recently, DEO, in partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, launched a website to verify the identity of claimants who have been locked out of their CONNECT account, the online system for processing Reemployment Assistance claims. This identity verification service is quick, secure and available 24-hours a day.

Individuals who were locked out of their CONNECT account have been notified and provided a direct link to verify their information, so they can access their account and have their Reemployment Assistance claims processed. If they did not receive a link, they will need to call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.

I used to have notices in my inbox. Why don’t I see anything in my inbox? 

"After you review an item in your inbox, it is hidden to make room for new notifications. You can use the search functions in the inbox to pull up previously viewed correspondence. If you want all items displayed, select the “Search” button with no search information entered. All correspondence will show in your inbox."

I am having trouble opening items in my CONNECT inbox. How can I access these documents? 

Please verify the following as these are common issues surrounding opening correspondence: 

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader is installed and up-to-date.
  • You are using a computer, not a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.
  • Make sure you are using a compatible browser.
  • Disable any pop-up blockers that may prevent PDF documents from opening.

I received an email and/or text from DEO saying I needed to log-in to CONNECT to view my messages, but I don’t have any messages.

"Due to the large volume of claims we are receiving, items sent to your inbox may take a few days to arrive. Please check your inbox at a later date to confirm receipt of any correspondence after initially filing your claim."

CONNECT will not allow me to continue without completing my work search and work registration requirement. I thought the governor waived this. Why can’t I complete my claim?

"The work registration and work search requirements have been waived for individuals requesting benefits for the weeks of March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020, due to COVID-19. You do not need to complete the work registration. If you answer 'no' to the question asking if you looked for work when you are claiming your weeks, you will not be asked to complete a work search log.

"However, you will be asked some additional questions. Please be aware that your claim will not be affected if you answer no to this question during this timeframe. Governor DeSantis also suspended the bi-weekly 23 reporting requirement which means you will not be required to log into CONNECT every two weeks to claim your weeks of Reemployment Assistance. Please continue to check CONNECT for any important updates to your account." 

How do I change the type of communication I receive?

After logging in to CONNECT:

  1. Select “View and Maintain Account Information” in the main menu.
  2. Select “Contact Information” option.
  3. Select “Edit.”
  4. Select your new “Correspondence Preference.”
  5. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date.
  6. Select “Submit.”

Was the supplemental documentation I uploaded received in CONNECT?

"When you attach additional documents to your fact-finding, the form will show which documents have been successfully attached prior to submission. Please verify the documents you wish to submit are listed before sending your fact-finding documents. When you submit your documents, you will receive an error if they are not received successfully."

Why can I not see "View and Maintain Account" on my dashboard?

Per DEO: “Individuals may see slightly different menu options at different times depending on the actions they may take on their claim at that time, such as requesting benefit payment; however, they may always view and maintain their account information.

"While the link may not appear on the menu on the left side of their account screen, claimants may select the ‘Claimant Home’ option and click the ‘View and Maintain Account Information’ link on the page, found under the ‘Reemployment Assistance Home Page - Available Navigation Options’ section.”

DEO also says: “After individuals enter their information through the link, DEO staff uploads each claimant's information into the CONNECT system as quickly as possible. DEO’s number one priority continues to be getting Floridians paid as quickly as possible.”

How to Appeal an Application Decision

What if I don’t agree with my Reemployment Assistance benefit determination?

You can request an appeal with our team within 20 calendar days after the distributed date of the determination.

Visit FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19 to download a Notice of Appeals form. You can send it in through one of these avenues.

  • Online: through CONNECT
  • Email: RA.AppealsClerks@deo.myflorida.com
  • Mail: Office of Appeals
    P.O. Box 5250
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-5250
  • Fax: 850-617-6504

I’ve been denied unemployment, but I was let go because of COVID-19. Do I need to submit an appeal?

You may submit an appeal. According to the state: "your determination will have appeal rights that provide you with the necessary information on how to file your appeal."

How do I file an appeal?

From the state: "You must request an appeal hearing within 20 calendar days after the distributed date of the determination. If the 20th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday you may file the appeal the next business day.

"You may submit your request for an appeal by mail, fax, email, or online through CONNECT. Please complete a Notice of Appeal for your request by mail or fax. Please use the CONNECT guide to file online. To submit by email, attach your Notice of Appeal and send to RA.AppealsClerks@deo.myflorida.com . 

Was my request for monetary reconsideration received?

CONNECT will not display a confirmation screen when submitted. Verify the request was received by checking the “Determination, Pending Issues and Decision Summary” section of CONNECT and reviewing the “Monetary Pending Issues” section. You should see a pending item attached to the employer’s name that you reported wage issues on.

What is an appeal hearing?

An appeal hearing is scheduled when you or an employer disagree with a Department determination and wish to have a hearing with an appeals referee. To protect your rights, participating in the hearing is important, even if the other party filed the appeal. The decision from this hearing will replace the determination that was appealed.

DEO leadership in the past said it would review the 400,000+ "ineligible" claims to ensure accuracy of eligibility. What is the status and process of those reviews?

Per DEO: "DEO has a dedicated team working through these as quickly as possible. Many of these individuals may be eligible for PUA and should check their account to see if they are."

Questions Waiting for Answers

What percentage of claimants are "paid in full", meaning they have been provided what they are owed up to this point?

Pending answer from DEO.

A good number of people have relayed to me that CONNECT is only allowing them to claim one week of benefits, instead of the usual two. Why?

Pending answer from DEO.

Of claimants receiving benefits, how many are receiving benefits via direct deposits? Via Checks? Via GoTo debit card?

Pending answer from DEO.