DEO says 100% eligible unemployment claimants paid; other applicants fall through cracks

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s claims dashboard says it has paid 100 percent of eligible claimants, yet dozens of people have told WINK News that they’re missing weeks of payments.

Some have said they’ve gone months and still don’t know whether they’ve been approved.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said the DEO has been working to find people who have fallen through the cracks – the same people WINK News sends them every day.

Mike Dearden of Fort Myers Beach is one of those who feel lost in the system.

“Tomorrow is actually going to be 13 weeks now,” he said.

Thirteen weeks and he said there’s been no word from the DEO. Dearden said that after facing endless issues with the online system, he sent in a paper application on April 2. It was his only application, since filing more than one can flag the claimant for fraud.

“You sit at home wondering am I going to have a roof over my house, over my head next month? When the bills pile up like that,” Dearden said.

The DEO is supposed to contact applicants by email or by mail once they receive the application. Dearden has received nothing.

“I’m lost somewhere in the shuffle, yeah.”

Francesca Wyman of Rotonda is frustrated too. She said she has been out of work for 15 weeks and her claim is still pending because the DEO can’t confirm her identity.

For her, calling the DEO for help is a lost cause.

“When they get into my account, it’s locked and then they don’t, their hands are tied and they don’t know what to do either,” Wyman said.

She said it’s time for the state to fix the system for everyone.

“I’m very happy for the people that are getting paid, but we have to stop talking about what you’re doing, what aren’t you doing, and how you’re going to fix it.”

As of June 30, the DEO’s claims dashboard said about 7 percent of applications still need to be processed.

Shortly after this story aired, WINK News received these responses from a DEO representative:

How many paper applications are still waiting to be processed as of today?

“As of yesterday, June 30, there were approximately 300 new paper applications outstanding. DEO processes paper applications as they are received. DEO has currently processed 258,095 complete and non-duplicated paper applications. This number is updated daily and can be found on the Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard. If the claimant didn’t supply an email address, they were mailed a letter with their temporary PIN for the CONNECT system.”

I am hearing from people who only applied by mailed-in paper application who have not received any correspondence from DEO (one since early April). What can they do?

“Individuals who sent paper applications or applied through the mobile-friendly site should have received an email from the department with next steps including a temporary pin. These emails were sent from [email protected]. If someone did not receive this email, they can view this guide here for resetting their PIN in CONNECT. We’ve noticed some people have not opened the email that was originally sent from the department, so may not have received this information.

“We also received some paper applications that did not have enough information to be transferred into CONNECT (an example would be a name that did not match the social security number with no contact information). Please remind your viewers that it is extremely important to fill out applications completely and accurately. Claimants should double check that all information is complete and accurate before submitting. Additionally, here is a video with more information on how to apply for Reemployment Assistance.

“Individuals can file a new claim 24 hours a day, seven days per week at and select “File a Claim.” Once an application is uploaded into CONNECT, the claimant will receive an email from [email protected] with a temporary PIN to log into CONNECT. If they do not have an email on file, they will receive a mailed letter.”

What do people do if they’re missing state, PUA or FPUC payments from weeks they didn’t have to claim (pre May 10th)?

“These are handled on a case by case basis. If you have claimant IDs you can provide for missing FPUC payments we would be happy to take a look.”

It’s my understanding that today July 1 is the start of a new quarter, and claimants have to “renew” their claims at the start of a new quarter, is this correct?

When will more info be coming out?

“You are correct, the quarter does change today. As a reminder, per state guidelines, a benefit week runs from Sunday through Saturday. In this instance, the new benefit week begins on Sunday, July 5. We will be reaching out to impacted individuals with step-by-step instructions. We will be happy to send those documents to you as well to share with your viewers.”

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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