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Florida ranks among lowest of states providing unemployment benefits

Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 5:54 PM CDT
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A new Pew Research Center study shows that Florida is at the bottom of the list of states that actually provide unemployment benefits.

In the last five weeks, more than a million Floridians have filed for unemployment benefits, but that study shows many of them won't ever receive them. The author tells us many of these systems are facing unprecedented numbers of claims that they’re just not geared for.

In March Marvin Randall was one of many who lost his job in the service industry. “The first time that I applied for the unemployment it literally took me about three days to get everything done. The website would crash, I would get one page done, advance to the next page- it would crash,” said Randall.

He said the phone lines aren’t helpful either.

“When I logged on I saw that I was ineligible and I have no idea why. There’s nothing on the account itself that specified why I was not eligible,” said Randall.

According to the Pew study, only about 8% of Floridians who filed for unemployment benefits in mid-March were actually approved.

“This country, we don’t have a single, national unemployment insurance system. We have 53 separate unemployment insurance systems,” said Drew DeSilver, senior writer at Pew Research Center.

He said that could be why in March only about 8% of unemployed Floridians actually received benefits but, by comparison, 66% of unemployed people from Massachusetts received them.

DeSilver said that number could have something to do with the difficulties many Floridians are having with the application process. “It very well could. I’m not an expert on Florida- I’ve heard it’s one of the states where there has been just tremendous difficulty,” he said.

Tuesday, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity unveiled the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which could make more people eligible for benefits.

As for Randall, he said he will keep refiling in the meantime.

The D.E.O. sent us a statement saying:

"Yesterday, we announced that Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is now available to all eligible Floridians. Many of the individuals that were deemed ineligible this weekend may be eligible for federal benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

We have streamlined the claims process for all applicants in a one-stop-shop, on our website at www.floridajobs.org. Floridians can click, file a claim and answer a few short questions that will lead them to the application for federal or state benefits. They may also call 1-833-FL-Apply (1-833-352-7759) for any questions they may have. Please review our latest press release here.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program:

Again, many of the individuals that were deemed ineligible this weekend may be eligible for federal benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Applicants should utilize the following criteria when applying for PUA:

- Individuals who applied for the state’s Reemployment Assistance benefits on or after April 5, 2020, and were deemed ineligible for state reemployment assistance benefits will receive additional application information from the Department. They can also visit www.floridajobs.org/cares-act for more information regarding these programs. Please advise these Floridians to monitor their accounts and email for additional information from the Department.

- Those who are self-employed, contract employees, gig workers, or others who applied for the state’s Reemployment Assistance benefits on or before April 4, 2020, should apply at www.FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim” to request PUA.

- Unemployed Floridians who have not yet applied for any benefit should apply at www.FloridaJobs.org and will be considered for all existing programs, including PUA.

State Reemployment Assistance Eligibility:

Many of your viewers have had questions regarding state reemployment assistance eligibility, there are numerous reasons someone could be deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, including wage base period issues, lack of wage history, multiple claims in one year, separation circumstances, incomplete applications, among others. Each person deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance receives a notification regarding their eligibility."

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