CORONAVIRUS

Resources

Cropped Photo: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN

FAQ: Unemployment Resources

The WINK News newsroom has been flooded with questions from concerned Southwest Floridians over unemployment issues. We set out with a goal to get all of your questions answered.

Below are the questions we have asked The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Governor Ron DeSantis’ office. Some remain unanswered and we continue to work to get you that information. New questions are also regularly added based on your concerns.

As the information on this page continues to grow, a simple way to locate the information you need is to use your computer’s “find” tool and type in a keyword, such as “paper application” or “CARES Act.” The keyboard shortcut for the “find” tool is Ctrl + F (or Command + F on a Mac).

The state has launched a Reemployment Assistant Claims Dashboard with the latest numbers on claims submitted, verified, processed, and paid. You can see that dashboard HERE.

Here’s what Investigative Reporter Sara Girard has gathered so far:

DEO’s FAQ + Resource Guide

DEO released a new resource guide with answers to many of the questions WINK News viewers have asked. We’ve included some of those answers below. Since they’ll be updating the FAQ regularly, the DEO suggests visiting FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19 and clicking on Frequently Asked Questions for the most recent information.

Have questions and concerns for DEO and Governor DeSantis?

WINK News created a short form you can fill out. We will take your names and information straight to the governor and DEO for answers.

Were you deemed ineligible for unemployment?

Florida House Rep. Anna Eskamani put together this guide on What To Do If You’re Ineligible in CONNECT. Click HERE.

Current Reemployment Assistance by the numbers

As of May 26, DEO has paid 1,018,296 claimants a total of more than $3.5 billion ($3,525,030,740).

You can see daily reemployment assistance updates on the Reemployment Assistance (RA) Claims Dashboard.

*Florida Reemployment Assistance claim numbers are not official until the U.S. Department of Labor releases them each Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Technology Enhancements

DEO will be conducting nightly maintenance to the CONNECT system to help with processing claims. CONNECT will only be available from 8 a.m. – 7:59 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

DEO will be continuing to process claims and making payments over the weekend and will be unavailable to existing claimants. This schedule does not affect individuals that wish to file a new claim. Individuals can file a new claim 24 hours a day, seven days per week at FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim.”


Updates

Virtual waiting room launched (6/1/20)

DEO has launched a Virtual Waiting Room for the CONNECT system. When CONNECT was developed, it was designed to have 1,000 concurrent users at a time. With the system enhancements put into place over the last few months, CONNECT is now able to host 80,000+/- concurrent users and provide a positive experience for the users utilizing the system. The CONNECT Virtual Waiting Room allows claimants to reserve their place in line while other claimants access the system.

Work search, registration and waiting week waivers extended (5/30/20)

Governor Ron DeSantis has directed DEO to continue waiving the work search and work registration requirements for claimants through June 13, 2020 (previously May 30). Additionally, the waiting week requirement will continue to be waived through August 1, 2020.

New identity verification tool (5/27/20)

  • 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.
  • Individuals who were locked our 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.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) (5/26/20)

  • The Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program is now available. This program, offered through the federal CARES Act and administered by DEO, provides up to 13 weeks of benefits to a claimant who has exhausted their Reemployment Assistance benefits.
  • Floridians will need to apply for PEUC benefits once the balance of their current claim is exhausted. Floridians who have already exhausted their benefits or have a Reemployment Assistance claim that expired after July 1, 2019, will also be able to apply.
  •  Through PEUC, Floridians may be eligible for up to $275, in addition to the $600 through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), in weekly benefits. The additional $600 through FPUC applies only to weeks of unemployment beginning March 29, 2020 and ends with the week ending July 25, 2020.
  •  All claimants participating in PEUC will still be required to claim weeks on a biweekly basis, certifying that they remain unemployed and are able and available for work during the weeks they are receiving PEUC. The first week a claimant can be eligible for this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020.
  • Unemployed Floridians who have exhausted their state Reemployment benefits will be notified with the next steps for PEUC.
  • Click here for PEUC Application Process.
  • Click here for PEUC Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Click here for COVID-19 Employment Scenarios.

Claiming weeks (5/11/20)

To comply with federal law, weeks beginning May 10, 2020, claimants will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” In doing so, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work should it be offered. For more information, click here.

If claimants, currently receiving Reemployment Assistance benefits, no longer wish to receive benefits, they do not need to claim their weeks, as payments will stop processing if weeks stop being claimed.

Governor Ron DeSantis has directed the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to continue waiving the work search and work registration requirements for claimants through June 13, 2020.

Modifying Filing Effective Date (5/1/20)

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.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program (4/28/20)

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/28/20): The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible under Florida’s state Reemployment Assistance program, including independent contractors and individuals who are self-employed. Individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19 and believe they may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, can visit www.FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim” to apply and be considered for PUA.

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.”

Applicants should utilize the following criteria when applying for (PUA) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program:

  • 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.

Retroactive Pay + Self-Employed Applicants (4/24/20)

RESPONSE FROM REP. DANE EAGLE (4/24/20): “Florida Department of Management Services Secretary, John Satter (now overseeing DEO) announced [Thursday] that self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers can apply now through the existing DEO site the same as all other claimants. There has been some misconception here. They have always had the ability to apply; however, they were being deemed ineligible by the system. According to Satter and effective yesterday, the existing system will no longer reject these type of claims as presumably the site has been corrected/updated to accommodate the federal benefit. It is also important to note that if these type of claimants have previously applied, they do not need to reapply. Their information is on file and will be processed accordingly.

“Additionally, it has been rumored that a new portal, specific to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers will be created. According to statements made by Secretary Satter [Thursday], this will not be the case. Again, they simply apply using the current system.

“Lastly, [Thursday] the DEO released an updated Resource Guide. I am linking it here (updated May 9) for your convenience.

“Note the relevance and further clarification on Page 11:

Gig workers will apply just like any other individual would apply for Reemployment Assistance benefits. They will fill out the regular Reemployment Assistance application to determine if they’re eligible for regular Reemployment Assistance benefits, and if they’re not, they will be directed to fill out a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application.”

Eagle’s office also confirmed to WINK News that Reemployment Assistance applicants will receive retroactive payments dating back to “whichever is later: March 9 or the day of their job loss and regardless of when their application was successfully submitted.”

Executive Order: Claiming Weeks (4/16/20)

Thursday, April 16, the Governor announced he signed Executive Order 20-104 suspending the requirement to log on to the CONNECT website every two weeks to confirm job status.

The order states: “I hereby suspend under section 443.111(l)(b), Florida Statutes, the biweekly reporting requirement by claimants of “actively seeking work” requirement, only to the extent necessary. This suspension is on an emergency temporary basis as needed to respond to the spread of COVID- I9. This directive shall remain in effect until the expiration of Executive Order 20-52.”

This means you do not have to log on to the CONNECT website every two weeks to claim your weeks of reemployment assistance.

DEO UPDATE (5/9/20): To comply with federal law, weeks beginning May 10, 2020, claimants will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.”


General questions:

Many people are asking me why their payments suddenly didn’t come this week, even though they are still unemployed and continuing to claim weeks. Why is that?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): Reemployment Assistance is paid on a biweekly basis. In an effort to get Floridians paid as quickly as possible, some individuals may have received payments weekly. Over the next few weeks, individuals should notice that their benefits will begin coming biweekly.

On the previous resource guide, DEO said benefits will not be impacted if you can’t access CONNECT to claim. Now that claiming weeks is re-instated, what do people do if CONNECT is crashing and causing them to miss the deadline? Does this impact their benefits? Will they lose their benefits for that week?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): 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. While the message in CONNECT will say your weeks have expired, the option to claim weeks does not expire. Claimants should be aware if they were late claiming their weeks that it could lead to a delay in payment. DEO encourages claimants to log-into CONNECT and check their account regularly and take action when prompted. Claimants can also contact the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and an agent will be able to assist you.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. As you know, we update the FAQ often and this was taken out by mistake. We’ve seen several instances of individuals that don’t log in who have many pending weeks, but raise concerns about not getting paid. So we appreciate you sharing this message that individuals must claim their weeks even if they miss the deadline in order to get paid.

On the previous resource guide, DEO said, “Benefits will be paid retroactively from when you became eligible under the CARES Act.” I noticed the word “retroactive” has been taken out of the resource guide and is nowhere on the website. Why has this changed? Are Reemployment Assistance benefits still retroactive to “whichever is later: March 9 or the day of their job loss and regardless of when their application was successfully submitted”?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): 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.” PUA claims can be made retroactive in the CONNECT system.

If, for example, someone submitted an application on April 15, will they get PUA and/or FPUC benefits retroactive payments back to March 29?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): For PUA benefits, a claimant may be able to claim back to February 2 or the date that they lost employment, whichever is later. FPUC payments will be paid for eligible weeks beginning March 29, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020.

Are PUA or FPUC benefits going to be applied retroactively?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): FPUC payment are available for weeks of unemployment beginning March 29, 2020, and ends the week ending July 25, 2020

It’s my understanding you’re capping the amount of people who can access the CONNECT website at once. How many people are you allowing at once?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (6/01/20): DEO has launched a Virtual Waiting Room for the CONNECT system. When CONNECT was developed, it was designed to have 1,000 concurrent users at a time. With the system enhancements put into place over the last few months, CONNECT is now able to host 80,000+/- concurrent users and provide a positive experience for the users utilizing the system. The CONNECT Virtual Waiting Room allows claimants to reserve their place in line while other claimants access the system.

If someone if having trouble during accessing CONNECT:

  1. It could be that when the claimant was in CONNECT they encountered an issue that would require them to log back in to the system.
  2. It could also be that CONNECT has hit its maximum number of entries due to the system’s cap on concurrent users.

If you wanted to share with your readers, we have found that less people are logging-in later in the day for CONNECT. We want to encourage people to log-in to CONNECT, complete their tasks and log out so that other claimants can log-in.

Now that the unemployment rate has gone up to 12.9% as of April 2020, how will the amount of weeks available for state Reemployment Assistance be adjusted? How and when does the state plan to extend weeks?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): The review of the number of weeks (and determining if there should be an increase) for Reemployment Assistance in our state can happen once a year. This calculation is based on the average unemployment rate of the third calendar quarter. So the calculation will be based on the unemployment rate of July, August, and September.

If an applicant made an error on an application unbeknownst to them, how does the DEO reach out to them and within what time frame?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): The agency is currently reviewing pending applications to see what we issues we can solve. Our recommendation to your viewers who may be concerned is to log-in to CONNECT and review their application for completion. We also recommend they view their Inbox to determine if we are waiting on them for information. We have created a video to help claimants understand how to navigate their inbox. If a claimant has found an error in their application, they should call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL APPLY and they should select “Agency Assist.”

Are you tracking how many people are ending their unemployment claims and when?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): When an individual has gone back to work and/or no longer wishes to receive their benefits, they simply stop claiming their weeks. At this time, we are not collecting this information, but you can view the continuing claims information on the USDOL website. https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/DataDashboard.asp. This will allow you to see how many individuals are continuing to claim their weeks.

What can people do if they applied, were deemed ineligible, but have no option or link on their account to apply for PUA? Why are some accounts unable to access the PUA link?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): The link for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should be available approximately 72 hours after an individual has been deemed ineligible for Reemployment Assistance. If an individual has not been invited to apply for PUA, but believes they may be eligible and it has been more than 72 hours since they were deemed ineligible for Reemployment Assistance we encourage them to call the Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL APPLY and they should select “Claim Specific.”

What can people do if they are ineligible but have NOT received a determination?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): These individuals will receive correspondence from the agency advising them of next steps.

How long does it take to correct an effective claim date after the request is submitted on this form?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): It takes approximately two weeks.

If someone applied for PUA and their effective date for claiming weeks is now inaccurate (as in, they need to claim past weeks dating back to March or April) what can they do? 

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/22/20): These individuals will need to call our Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL APPLY and select option 5 for claim-specific questions.

Is the DEO restricting the amount of users who can access the site at one time? I’ve had many people complain they’ve been unable to access the site during the week.

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): In an effort to maximize the experience of our users, we limit the number of users on the CONNECT site at one time. This allows for users to log-in to CONNECT, access the info that they need, and log off as quickly as possible. Users should try logging into CONNECT later in the day when we see lower usage.

How long before everyone eligible who applied in March and early April receives payment?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): DEO remains committed to getting Floridians paid as quickly as possible. If individuals have a claim specific question, they are encouraged to call the Call Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose “Claim Specific.”

Sec. Satter said the DEO has to call thousands of people to manually correct errors on their accounts. If someone has unresolved issues with their account, do you recommend they call, or wait to be called by the DEO?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): We would recommend they call 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose the “Claim Specific” option.

Sec. Satter said the call centers are made up of Floridians, but people are telling me they’ve called and spoken with individuals who are in Texas, Ohio, etc. How can you explain this? Is the state using call centers outside of Florida?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): DEO has directed each of the companies that have contracted with the department to assist with the Florida Reemployment Assistance program to hire only Floridians.

Why are some determinations coming back saying people were denied because they didn’t complete the work search requirements? Again, these are determinations. What can people do if this is their problem?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): If someone is having a specific question with their claim, they should call the Call Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose the “Claim Specific” option. Additionally, we would love for you to share this step by step guide with your readers.

The Governor’s task force said more than 3 million more jobs are vulnerable because of social distancing. Is the DEO prepared for that?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): During this unprecedented time, the department has taken several steps to ensure eligible Floridians receive their Reemployment Assistance as quickly as possible. The following actions have been taken to improve the customer experience and streamline the processing of benefits:

  • Weekly system enhancements are being deployed to improve system performance and capacity;
  • Training and onboarding thousands of additional resources to assist the Reemployment Assistance Customer Call Center and other back-office claims processing functions; and
  • Issuing proactive correspondence to notify claimants when actions are needed to process their case.

At the direction of Governor DeSantis, DEO has waived the work search and work registration requirements for claimants through June 13, 2020. DEO will continue exploring all options to support claimants throughout this time of uncertainty and stress.

What happens to a claimant collecting unemployment if their workplace reopens but they don’t feel safe returning?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/6/20): We are following federal guidelines, and the U.S. Department of Labor says that ‘an individual who does not return to work due to general concerns about exposure to COVID-19 and who does not meet any of the other COVID-19 related criteria for PUA, is not eligible for PUA because general concerns about exposure to COVID-19 is not one of the reasons listed in the CARES Act.’

For people returning to work, how do they notify the DEO (considering they don’t have to claim weeks and can’t reach anyone over the phone)? 

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/7/20): If there is an overpayment, repayments are accepted by check or money order with an attached payment coupon or by credit card here. Established overpayments are expected to be paid in full. If you are unable to make repayment in full, you may make payments on a monthly basis. DEO will accept any repayments toward an overpayment.

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/6/20): Anyone who has gone back to work should  call 1-833-FL-APPLY to let our team know they have returned to work. They should VOID and return any check received past the date you returned to work to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Why are some people receiving one or two weeks of payments and then nothing since? When can people expect to see regular weekly payment?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/7/20): DEO is committed to ensuring all Floridians receive the benefits they are owed.  We have done everything we can to get payments out as quickly as possible, and some individuals received their state and federal benefits on different days. Over the next few weeks, individuals should begin to see their benefits coming together.

The Governor said applications would be processed in the order they are received. Why are more recent applications (like some filed in April) being approved before older ones (like those filed in March)?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/23/20): “There are several scenarios why someone who applied for benefits in April may receive benefits before someone who applied in March. A few examples include:

“If an individual has applied for Reemployment Assistance in the CONNECT system previously, they have already had their identity verified in the CONNECT system. If an individual has never applied for Reemployment Assistance, their identity must be verified. It is possible that someone who already has an account established in the CONNECT system may receive benefits before someone who has not previously received benefits, because they will not have to go through the identity verification process.

“Payments may also be delayed if an individual has provided incomplete information or information in their application that creates an eligibility flag that requires resolution.”

Response from Rep. Dane Eagle and Rep. Michael Grant (4/23/20): “DEO maintains that applications are being processed in the order they are received. One factor is that companies that employ 1,000 or more employees can file on behalf of said employees. While this may help speed up the system, it may also result in some of those claims being processed ahead of others due to the “bulk” nature of the claims.

“Another factor may be paper applications vs. online applications. DMS Secretary Jon Satter (now overseeing Florida’s unemployment system) said:

‘We’re receiving paper applications simultaneously with electronic applications.’ ‘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.’

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

“Lastly, previous claimants have already had their identities verified by DEO. First-timers have not. This takes additional time.”

Why do some federal checks have income tax taken out, but others don’t? Some people are receiving $540 while others are $600. Will taxes be taken out later?

Response from Rep. Dane Eagle and Rep. Michael Grant (4/23/20): “All unemployment benefits are taxed pursuant to IRS regulations. Florida RA claimants have the option of not having taxes withheld but they will be due to the IRS later or they can opt to have 10% of their weekly benefits withheld. FPUC, PUA, and PEUC are all taxable. Even though they are federal benefits, they are a supplemental extension of state administered unemployment systems. Those receiving $540 payments have elected to have the 10% withholding upfront.”

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/21/20): “Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) funding is subject to federal withholding taxes. State benefits are a taxable income. You can elect to withhold 10% of your weekly benefits due with the IRS. This can be handled after logging into your claim under “View and Maintain Account Information” and selecting “Payment Method and Tax Withholding Options.”

If the state reopens and people begin going back to work before their claims are processed, will they still get their state and federal benefits owed to them?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/21/20): “You may continue to request benefit weeks up to the week when you started working. When you request the week overlapping with your job, please indicate that you have worked and earned money during the week. If you expect to work full-time and/or earn over $275 in gross earnings during the week of overlap, you do not need to request benefits for that week.”

Why are people receiving their federal FPUC benefits before their state application has been approved?

Unanswered


The new mobile-friendly site:

Do claimants have to go back to the original CONNECT website to continue with the claiming process, or should they wait to be contacted by the DEO?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “The new mobile app does not connect to CONNECT. However, the information submitted in the app will be transferred to CONNECT.”

“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.”

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/10/2020): “After an individual files a claim in our new online application or submits a paper application, DEO will process their claim for Reemployment Assistance. If further information is needed, the agency will contact the claimant.”

Upon finishing the application on the new website, what does “Resolved-Completed” mean?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/14/2020): “This means the application has been submitted for review.”

My claim says it is under review, what does this mean?

Under review means the claim is being authenticated or your identity is being confirmed.

My claim still says pending. What does this mean?

Pending means that a determination has not been made on your claim.

What does active versus pending mean for my claims?

Active is referring to your claim status and that your benefit year has been established. Pending means a determination has not been made.

After completing an application on the new website, are applicants supposed to call to get their identity verified and receive a temporary PIN, which they can change to then access the CONNECT site?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/16/2020): “No, that is not correct. Once they submit an application through the new website they will receive a phone call, email or letter after their application has been processed. Based on their eligibility, they may receive benefits or have the option to appeal the determination if it negatively impacts them.”


The CONNECT site:

Technology Enhancements

DEO will be conducting nightly maintenance to the CONNECT system to help with processing claims. CONNECT will only be available from 8 a.m. – 7:59 p.m. daily.

Importantly, this will not affect individuals that are filing a new claim. Individuals can file a new claim 24 hours a day, seven days per week, click here.

What do claimants do once they complete their application?

UPDATE FROM DEO (5/9/20): You are required to complete a few additional items after completing your application:

Request Benefit Payment
You are scheduled to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request your
benefits. Completing this process submits your request for payment during your weeks of
unemployment, even when your claim is pending for review. It is important that you request
your benefits within 7 days of your scheduled date regardless of your claim status.

Workforce Registration (NOTE: DEO has suspended this requirement for any claims filed with an effective date of March 15, 2020, through the week ending June 13, 2020)
Under normal circumstances, you are required to register with Employ Florida. When creating (or updating) your Employ Florida profile, you must provide a valid e-mail address, upload or create a current resume, and complete background history on your profile. Please see these step-by-step instructions for more information. If you filed a claim prior to March 15, this requirement is still applicable to you.

Work Search Contacts (NOTE: DEO has suspended this requirement beginning the week of March 15, 2020 through the week ending June 13, 2020)
You are required to provide five work search contacts for every week of benefits you request from the department. This is only applicable to applicants that apply for benefits before March 15 and after June 13.

Any incomplete fact-findings
During the initial processing of your claim, many reviews occur regarding your eligibility for benefits. You will be mailed correspondence or sent an email reminder to check your CONNECT inbox based on your selected contact method. Please complete any requests for information as soon as possible. Any correspondence received via mail can be completed online. You can fax completed forms to 1-877-934-1504.

Watch for your notice of monetary determination
This notice will provide details on the amount of benefits you can receive per week (weekly benefit amount), the total balance your claim has (maximum benefit amount), as well as the history of wages that has established your claim.

Appointment with your local CareerSource office
You may be selected and scheduled for a mandatory appointment with your local CareerSource office. It will provide one-on-one services to help create a reemployment plan. Your appointment notice will be mailed to you, so please ensure your address in both

CONNECT and Employ Florida are up-to-date. Failure to participate in your scheduled appointment will result in a review of your eligibility and potentially delay or deny your benefits.

CareerSource SWFL centers will reopen starting June 1st by appointment following strict CDC guidelines. More details and how to request an appointment for individuals who need assistance can be found here: https://careersourcesouthwestflorida.com/covid-19-services/

Why are people still asked for their work search requirements on the original site?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/21/20):”The work registration and work search requirements have been waived for individuals requesting benefits for the weeks of March 15, 2020 to June 13, 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 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.”

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “The work search requirement is waived for individuals requesting benefits for the weeks of March 15, 2020 to June 13, 2020. However, you must fulfill the work search requirements for any weeks prior to March 15, 2020.

“When completing the request, you will be asked questions about your ability and availability to look for work and any work and earnings you had for the weeks in unemployment you are claiming. If you did not search for work due to the waiver in Emergency Order No. DEO 20-11, you may put “no” when asked if you looked for work that week. Then, proceed through to the next step in the request 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 request 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.”

What should people do if they applied on the original site 2-4 weeks ago but their status is still pending?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “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.”

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/14/2020): “A determination on their eligibility has not been made but with the added help from state agencies, specifically the extra help from Department of Revenue, eligibility should be determined soon.”

For people who have applied but can’t claim benefits because of website issues, is there a non-online or paper option?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/14/2020): There are multiple ways to submit an application for Reemployment Assistance.

  1. New applicants can complete an application online at FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication.
  2. Complete a paper application by following the steps online at FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19. Then mail your application to: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity P.O. Box 5350 Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350
  3. Visit your local CareerSource center for assistance in filing your claim. CareerSource can offer assistance with online and paper applications. Please visit CareerSourceFlorida.com to find a location near you. We recommend calling to confirm your local center’s hours of operation.
  4.  FedEx Office stores are also offering Floridians the option to print and mail applications in storefronts located throughout the state free of charge. Please visit FedEx.com for a location near you. You can also complete an application online at FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19

For people who cannot get through to confirm their identities over the phone, can people fax or email their SS card and driver’s license to the DEO?

WHAT WE FOUND: Yes. According to the DEO website, you can submit documents verifying your identity to the department by email or fax. Please provide a signed copy of your Social Security card and a copy of your valid driver’s license or state ID. Please allow three business days for the documents to be reviewed and then contact the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity toll-free at (800)297-0586 to verify your information.

Email: [email protected]
Fax: (321)332-6608

What if people don’t agree with their Reemployment Assistance benefit determination?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/14/2020): You have the option to 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.

*Select one of the options below to submit your request for an appeal.

    • Online: through CONNECT
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Mail: Office of Appeals P.O. Box 5250 Tallahassee, FL 32399-5250
    • Fax: 850-617-6504

Troubleshooting:

What should people do if they still can’t get their identities confirmed (and they’ve already tried calling, faxing and emailing their information)?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “At this time, we do not need additional documentation to verify the identity as long as the application is fully complete and submitted. If any additional information is needed, a DEO associate will reach out to the individual.”

If people are unable to access the CONNECT website to claim their benefits because it keeps crashing, and they miss their deadline, will they get an extension?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “If you were unable to claim your weeks because you could not log-on to CONNECT, you will not lose your benefits for that week. In order to better to serve you, Governor DeSantis suspended the bi-weekly reporting requirement. This means you do not have to log into CONNECT every two weeks to claim your weeks of reemployment assistance.”

“At the end of your application, it will tell you what dates you need to come back into CONNECT and claim your weeks. Also, your inbox will have a message telling you what dates you need to come back into CONNECT to claim your weeks, and you will see an option that says, “Request Benefit Payment.” You need to log into CONNECT every two weeks. In order to better to serve you, Governor DeSantis suspended the bi-weekly reporting requirement. This means you do not have to log into CONNECT every two weeks to claim your weeks of reemployment assistance.”

The following is from the DEO’s resource guide, updated May 9.

I cannot log on to CONNECT, how does this impact my benefits?

Your benefits will not be impacted. In order to better to serve you, Governor DeSantis suspended the bi-weekly reporting requirement. This means you do not have to log into CONNECT every two weeks to claim your weeks of reemployment assistance.

I haven’t been able to claim my weeks because I can’t log-on to CONNECT. Will I lose my benefits for that week?

No. If you were unable to claim your weeks because you could not log-on to CONNECT, you will not lose your benefits for that week. In order to better to serve you, Governor DeSantis suspended the bi-weekly reporting requirement. This means you do not have to log into CONNECT every two weeks to claim your weeks of reemployment assistance.

How do I know when to file my weeks? What should I do if I cannot log-on to file my weeks? I missed my deadline to file a claim because CONNECT was down. What should I do?

At the end of your application, it will tell you what dates you need to log-on to CONNECT and claim your weeks. You are scheduled to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request your benefits. Completing this process submits your request for payment during your weeks of unemployment, even when your claim is pending for review. It is important that you request your benefits within 7 days of your scheduled date regardless of your claim status.

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

Overall eligibility

WHAT WE FOUND: The following is from the DEO’s new FAQ page, updated May 9. For more specific eligibility questions, see the DEO’s new FAQ page.

  • 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;
  • At the time you apply, you must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work, unless otherwise exempt from this requirement. This includes being physically able to perform a job and having child care if necessary.

You may be unable to receive benefits for the following reasons:

• You voluntarily left work without good cause.
• You were discharged for misconduct connected with work.
• You were discharged for a dishonest act.
• You refused to accept a suitable offer of work.
• You received or will receive wages instead of a notice of termination.
• You received or will receive Workers’ Compensation.
• You are unemployed because of a labor dispute.
• You are on a voluntary leave of absence.
• You are unemployed because you were suspended.
• You are receiving unemployment benefits from another state.
• You made a false or fraudulent misrepresentation to obtain benefits.
• You are receiving income, such as retirement pay or severance pay.
• You are not monetary eligible (i.e. you do not have enough wages in the base period).
You must:
– Have been paid wages in two or more calendar quarters in the base period;
– Have a total base period wages of at least 1 ½ times the wages in the quarter having the highest earnings; and
– Have at least $3,400 total wages in the base period. The base period for your claim is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before your benefit claim begins.

Your continued eligibility may be impacted if:

• You are still working or you are partially unemployed and earning more than $275 per week.
• You are not able and available to work if a job became available.
• You have failed to register with the online work registration system (Employ Florida).
In order to better serve you, Governor DeSantis waived this requirement. Effective March 15, 2020 until June 13, 2020.
• You have failed to make the required work search requirements.
In order to better serve you, Governor DeSantis waived this requirement. Effective March 15, 2020 until June 13, 2020.
• You failed to attend a mandatory appointment for reemployment services. These
appointments are randomly chosen by CareerSource centers, not all individuals are selected to attend these services.
• You have been employed during the one week waiting period.
In order to better serve you, Governor DeSantis waived this requirement. Effective March 29, 2020 until June 13, 2020, which means you will be paid for the waiting week if you filed your application for Reemployment Assistance during this timeframe.

How will I know if I am eligible or ineligible?

If you are eligible, you will receive written determination stating your eligibility.

If you are not eligible, the written determination will explain the reason your claim was denied and will explain your appeal rights. If you disagree with a determination that denies benefits, you may request an appeal hearing.

* Be sure to check your CONNECT account for any updates. This includes your benefit payments and important notices regarding your account.

How do I know if I qualify for Reemployment benefits?

Please apply for Reemployment Assistance Benefits at FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19. When your application has been processed, we will notify you of your eligibility by providing a written determination electronically and/or by mail to explain your eligibility status.

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

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 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.

State Reemployment Assistance Eligibility

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/28/20): “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.”


The CARES Act additional benefits:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 provides Reemployment Assistance benefits for the self-employed, independent contractors, certain nonprofit employees, gig economy workers, those who have exhausted other unemployment insurance benefits, and those who may not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular state Reemployment Assistance benefits.

The CARES Act also includes Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for those receiving any amount of Reemployment Assistance benefits. This will include an additional $600 weekly benefit for individuals that are eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). FPUC applies to weeks beginning March 29, 2020 and ends July 31, 2020.

For information on eligibility and how to apply for PUA through the Florida CONNECT system: http://www.floridajobs.org/cares-act

For a detailed explanation on how to navigate the CONNECT website to apply for PUA click HERE for a guide.

CARES Act Update – The following is from the DEO’s new FAQ page, updated May 9. For more specific eligibility questions, see the DEO’s new FAQ page.

UPDATE FROM DEO (5/9/2020):

Eligibility –

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expands Reemployment Assistance benefits. Benefits will be paid from the date they became eligible under the CARES Act. At this time, individuals who apply for Reemployment Assistance whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 will follow the same application, review and payment process as all applicants for Reemployment Assistance in Florida.

Programs included in the CARES Act are:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – provides an additional $600 per week to any individual eligible under Florida law for Reemployment Assistance. This benefit is available for weeks claimed March 29, 2020 – July 31, 2020 in addition to the funds owed under Florida law to individuals.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – provides up to $275 in weekly benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for Reemployment Assistance, in addition to the FPUC funding. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees.

*Florida is currently working to distribute these funds to eligible individuals and will be providing more information.

PUA Eligibility: You may be eligible if your employment has been either lost or interrupted as a direct result of COVID-19, one or more of the following occurred: you became unemployed, you were scheduled to begin work but no longer have a job or you became the primary breadwinner due to the death of the head of household, and if you would not ordinarily be eligible for state Reemployment Assistance. This includes individuals who are gig workers, self-employed or contract employees.

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of state Reemployment Assistance benefits, in addition to the FPUC funding. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. PEUC will provide individuals with up to $275 in weekly benefits.

*Florida is currently working to distribute these funds to eligible individuals and will be providing
more information.
* This funding is subject to federal withholding taxes.

DEO will gather your employment information and determine whether you qualify. When the department receives information regarding your claim, the following will happen:
• Your claim will be referred to a reemployment assistance representative to determine eligibility.
• You may be contacted for additional information by telephone, email or mail.
• A separate determination will be made for each job issue separation that may affect your claim.on.

* This funding is subject to federal withholding taxes.

You may be ineligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if:

• Your unemployment is not a direct result of COVID-19.
• You are eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits or extended benefits under state
or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC).
• You have the ability to telework and receive wages.
• You are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
• You are not able and available for work.
• You are no longer unemployed.
• You are receiving wages that are more than $275 per week.
• You commit fraud in order to obtain PUA benefits.

Are people who are found ineligible for state or PUA benefits eligible for PEUC?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/6/2020): “Correct, The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of Reemployment Assistance benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law. Floridians may be eligible for up to $275 + $600 in weekly benefits. More information on how to apply is coming soon.”

According to the DEO website regarding PEUC:

Floridians may be eligible for up to $275 + $600 in weekly benefits. The additional $600 applies to weeks of unemployment beginning March 29, 2020, and ends July 25, 2020. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending Dec. 26, 2020.

Is it true that through the CARES Act, recipients of PUA should receive the federal $600 weekly plus half the state’s amount in benefits?

Response from Rep. Dane Eagle and Rep. Michael Grant (4/23/20): “Yes, PUA benefits are calculated the same way as they are for the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program under the Stafford Act, which is the model for the PUA program. PUA will have a minimum benefit that is equal to one-half the state’s average weekly UI benefit.”

Rep. Dane Eagle’s and Rep. Michael Grant’s offices provided this breakdown of the CARES Act bill.

What will the new CARES Act provide for Reemployment Assistance?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/21/2020): “For weeks claimed beginning March 29, 2020, the CARES Act provides eligible individuals with $600 per week in addition to the weekly benefit amount determined under state law.”

What guidance has the state received on implementing the CARES Act?

The U.S. Department of Labor announced on April 2 new CARES Act guidance on unemployment insurance for states in response to COVID-19. You can read that guidance here.

Do I need to submit an additional application to receive the additional $600 (FPUC) per week on my unemployment claim?

No, if you have filed a new Reemployment Assistance benefits claim and it is being processed; or you have an existing RA claim, there is nothing you need to do to receive the additional benefits. DEO began paying the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits the week of April 13. If you are eligible for Reemployment Assistance Benefits and have previously provided a bank account in the CONNECT system, you will receive a direct deposit to your account. If you did not provide your bank account, you will receive a check to the mailing address provided on your account.

The previous DEO resource guide said PUA benefits “will be paid retroactively from when you became eligible under the CARES Act” – What does this mean?

Is FPUC or PEUC retroactive? If so, to what date? 

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expands Reemployment Assistance benefits. Benefits will be paid from the date individuals became eligible under the CARES Act. At this time, individuals who apply for Reemployment Assistance whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 will follow the same application, review and payment process as all applicants for Reemployment Assistance in Florida. Programs included in the CARES Act are:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – provides an additional $600 per week to any individual eligible under Florida law for Reemployment Assistance. This benefit is available for weeks claimed March 29, 2020 – July 31, 2020, in addition to the funds owed under Florida law to eligible individuals. * This funding is subject to federal withholding taxes.
  • The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of Reemployment Assistance benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law. Floridians may be eligible for up to $275 + $600 in weekly benefits. The additional $600 applies to weeks of unemployment beginning March 29, 2020, and ends July 25, 2020.

For more information about claimants that are eligible to modify their claims, visit www.FloridaJobs.org and select the link “Request to Modify Claim (Application) Filing Effective Date.”

When will the PEUC application be ready?

UPDATE FROM DEO (5/26/20): More information on how to apply for PEUC is listed on the website here.


Independent contractors/gig workers/self-employed people:

For information on the PUA process under the CARES Act click HERE.

For information on eligibility and how to apply for PUA through the Florida CONNECT system click HERE.

The following is from the DEO’s new FAQ page, updated May 9. For more specific eligibility questions, see the DEO’s new FAQ page.

If I am self-employed, do I need to file a claim online for Reemployment Assistance?

Yes, you will first need to file a claim online at FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication to see if you are eligible for a regular claim. After you have submitted your claim, continue to check your CONNECT account for updates on what additional information is needed.

Am I eligible for benefits if I am an independent contractor?

Yes, under the CARES Act, individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors and those that are otherwise ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits and those that have exhausted state and federal benefits may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

However, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance eligibility does not include individuals who have the ability to telework and receive pay or individuals who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

In normal circumstances, individuals whose income is only from self-employment or work as an independent contractor are not normally eligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits. However, if an independent contractor or self-employed individual also received wages through services performed as an employee (i.e., they had another job with an employer) during the base period (first 12 months of the past 15 months), he or she may be eligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits.

Other states are accepting applications from individuals who don’t normally qualify for Reemployment Assistance. Why isn’t Florida? When can independent contractors, gig workers and others receive their benefits?

The Department is working diligently to incorporate the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions of the CARES Act to ensure that eligible individuals get the full amount of benefits they are owed. Benefits will be paid retroactively from when you became eligible under the CARES Act. The retroactivity is only applicable to the federal CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Where do gig workers apply?

Gig workers will apply just like any other individual would apply for Reemployment Assistance benefits. They will fill out the regular Reemployment Assistance application to determine if they’re eligible for regular Reemployment Assistance benefits, and if they’re not, they will be directed to fill out a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application.

For information on the PUA process under the CARES Act click HERE.

For information on eligibility and how to apply for PUA through the Florida CONNECT system click HERE.

I was denied through CONNECT, but I am eligible through the federal government.

The Department will provide notification to individuals about their potential eligibility for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. If you are eligible for PEUC, you will have to fill out an application. For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), CONNECT will prompt you to fill out a PUA application.

For information on the PUA process under the CARES Act click HERE.

For information on eligibility and how to apply for PUA through the Florida CONNECT system click HERE.

1099 employees are still telling me they are unable to apply for PUA or have not gotten any response to the new application they submitted on CONNECT. Is the PUA application ready to accept them?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): Please see this step by step guide for applying for PUA. In addition, claimants can watch a tutorial video here.

Is the state considering making independent contractors eligible for unemployment benefits permanently (not just under the current federal executive order)?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (5/11/20): The eligibility is determined by state and federal law.


The waiting week and work search requirements:

WHAT WE FOUND: The following is from the DEO’s new FAQ page, updated May 9.

I heard work registration requirement is waived, what does that mean?

Governor DeSantis has waived the work registration requirement for individuals filing an application for benefits from March 15, 2020 until June 13, 2020. If you file an application during this time period, you will not be required to complete the work registration in Employ Florida. You do not have to complete the registration if your application is filed between March 15, 2020 and June 13, 2020. You may be prompted to register in Employ Florida or may receive a message on the Reemployment Assistance system, however you do not have to register. If you completed your application prior to March 15, 2020, you must complete the online work registration.

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

Governor DeSantis has waived the work search requirement for individuals filing an application for benefits from March 15, 2020 until June 13, 2020. 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.

What is a valid work search contact and what information do you need?

You are required to provide the following details for each job contact:
▪ Date of contact
▪ Method of contact (in person, online, fax, phone, etc.)
▪ Business name including telephone number & complete address, website URL or an e-mail ▪ Results of your search
▪ Type of work sought

How many work search contacts do I need to provide to the department per benefit week?

Prior to COVID-19, you are required to provide five work search contacts per week. The following are exceptions and exemptions:

• If you reside in a low-population county, you are required to submit three contacts weekly
• If you are a union member, you are required to remain in good standing and maintain regular contact with your Union.
• If you are on a temporary layoff and will return to the same employer within 8 weeks, you are exempt from work search requirements.
• If you are a part of an approved training program, you are exempt from work search
requirements.
• If you qualify for one of these exemptions and still receive a request for full work search
information, please contact us at 1-800-204-2418 for assistance.

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

Governor DeSantis waived the requirement to wait a week to receive Reemployment Assistance benefits beginning March 29, 2020 through June 13, 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.

Governor DeSantis waived the waiting week, why haven’t I gotten paid?

Due to the “waiting week” being waived, Floridians will be eligible for benefits for the first week of unemployment, in which they would not have previously been eligible. Your claim must be processed before the waiting week can be paid to determine if you are eligible for those benefits. You will also have to claim your first two weeks of benefits before the waiting week can be paid. This requirement is waived for the period of March 29, 2020- June 13, 2020.

I heard week certification requirements “claiming weeks” is waived, what does that mean?

DEO UPDATE (5/9/20): In order to better serve you, Governor DeSantis suspended the bi-weekly reporting requirement until June 13, 2020. However, to comply with federal law, weeks beginning May 10, 2020, claimants will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” In doing so, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work should it be offered.


Paper applications:

Are paper applications only for new applicants?

WHAT WE FOUND: Yes. According to CareerSource, the paper application is only for individuals who have never filed for unemployment before. Floridians who do not have a current open Reemployment Assistance claim can also use the new, mobile-friendly website: floridajobs.com/raapplication

CareerSource cannot answer any questions about filing or pending applications, but they do have staff available to help applicants reset their PINs. Assistance resetting your PIN is available by filling out this form or calling 1-800-557-3242. You can also call the CareerSource center closest to you.

How much longer will a paper application take to process versus applying online?

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/2020): “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.”

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/10/2020): “After an individual files a claim in our new online application or submits a paper application, DEO will process their claim for Reemployment Assistance. If further information is needed, the agency will contact the claimant.”

Click here to download a paper application. Certain FedEx Office store locations are offering free printing and shipping for unemployment applications. Click here to find a location.

FedEx says “Anyone needing to file for unemployment in the state of Florida can come into one of our more than 120 FedEx Office Print and Ship stores in Florida, pick up a copy of the application and complete it. Preprinted Re-employment Assistance Application Forms are available in English, Spanish and Creole. FedEx Office will ship all completed applications to the state each day, also free of charge.”

The DEO website says: “Please note that paper applications could potentially take longer to process than completing an online application.”

Is it an issue if claimants completed an application on the new website but already sent out a paper, mail-in application? Will multiple applications like this be flagged as fraud or ID theft?

Unanswered


Receiving payment:

WHAT WE FOUND: The following is from the DEO’s new FAQ page, updated May 9.

How will I receive the benefits once my Reemployment Assistance application has been processed?

Floridians have two options for receiving benefits. You have the option to select how you receive benefits during the application process.

1- Direct Deposit- This process may take 1-2 business days to reflect in your bank account after your application has been processed. Please note, due to the high volume of requests, this process may take longer than usual, or
2- Way2Go Debit Card- Debit cards are mailed after the first payment is processed and may take 7-10 business days to receive by mail. Please note, due to the high volume of requests, this process may take longer than usual.

When will I receive my debit card?

The Way2Go debit card will be issued by mail after the first payment on your claim is made via debit card. If you have previously been issued a debit card, it is valid for three years from the initial issue date. Your previous card will receive any payments on your current claim. If you have lost your previous debit card and/or have not received your debit card 10 business days after your first debit payment, please contact our card provider, Conduent, at:
U.S.: 1-833-888-2780
International: 1-210-334-6615 (This includes Puerto Rico. This line is not toll-free)

How do I change how I get paid? I want to get direct deposit versus debit card.

You can log into CONNECT and change this information yourself under the “View and Maintain Account Information.”

Why do I have a negative balance on my debit card?

The debit card provider, Conduent, has certain fees associated with the card. This includes a limited number of contacts to their phone lines per month. Please review the information issued with your card for more details surrounding these fees. Conduent also provides additional methods to check your balance including SMS notifications (text messages), checking at approved ATMs, as well as a web portal to view your balance information. Please visit www.goprogram.com for more information.

Why isn’t my CONNECT PIN working for my debit card?

Your CONNECT PIN is separate from the debit card PIN. You will need to follow the instructions included with the debit card in order to activate and establish a PIN.
26

Why can’t I enter my banking information on CONNECT?

There are several reasons your banking information may be rejected:
• The information you entered is incorrect.
• The interface to verify the information is currently down.
• Your bank is not approved for direct deposit.
• You are attempting to use a prepaid card for direct deposit purposes.
• Not every financial institution is accepted; your bank may not be eligible for direct deposit.
Please select debit card if you have no other financial institution.

What is the timeline from when someone successfully files to the time they actually receive their benefits? How long should it take to see the money?

RESPONSE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, it took three to four weeks (assuming there were no issues with the claim) to process a claim. We do not have an exact timeframe of when individuals will get paid. However, we are working diligently to process claims as quickly as possible.”

Will individuals be able to receive retroactive benefits for those who tried to apply days or weeks before successfully submitting? What is required for this to happen?

RESPONSE (4/24/20): Florida House Majority Leader Dane Eagle’s office confirmed to WINK News on April 24 that Reemployment Assistance applicants will receive retroactive payments dating back to “whichever is later: March 9 or the day of their job loss and regardless of when their application was successfully submitted.”

Why are some people receiving one or two weeks of payments and then nothing since? When can people expect to see regular weekly payment?

UPDATE FROM DEO (5/7/20):”DEO is committed to ensuring all Floridians receive the benefits they are owed.  We have done everything we can to get payments out as quickly as possible, and some individuals received their state and federal benefits on different days. Over the next few weeks, individuals should begin to see their benefits coming together.”


If you still have questions about completing the Reemployment Assistance Application:

UPDATE FROM DEO (4/18/20): “You have multiple options if you need assistance or have questions about completing your Reemployment Assistance Application.

1- Virtual assistance is available here: (https://visualivr.connect.myflorida.com/fish- messaging/go/Q5uZriw-)
2- Complete the Reemployment Assistance Contact Form Found here: (racontactus.floridajobs.org)
3- Contact the Reemployment Assistance operator at 1-800-204-2418.
4- Your local CareerSource center for assistance and questions about completing your
application. Please visit CareerSourceFlorida.com to find website and contact information for your local career center. We recommend you call your CareerSource center to check their hours of operation.”


The DEO says individuals should visit FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19 for frequently asked questions and helpful information for individuals and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.

 

Reporter:Sara Girard
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