UPDATE: In a reversal, the DEO now says some workers need to re-apply for federal benefits at FloridaJobs.org. Click here for the update.
ORLANDO, Fla. – PREVIOUS STORY:
A day after the head of the Florida department overseeing the state unemployment system said contractors, gig workers and the self-employed can now receive federal benefits through the state application system, the department has clarified that people previously denied benefits because they did not qualify for Florida unemployment do not need to reapply.
Florida Department of Management Services Secretary John Satter, who is leading the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity through its coronavirus unemployment surge, said in an interview Wednesday that independent contractors, gig-workers and self-employed individuals can now apply through the existing application system for federal benefits.
“They will go through the same process as anyone would for the state unemployment process,” Satter said.
UNEMPLOYMENT UPDATE - If you are self-employed, gig worker or independent contractor, you do NOT need to re-apply for federal benefits if you’ve already submitted a state application, per DEO. New applicants use same website for state benefits. #News6 pic.twitter.com/AeTs922Szn— Mike DeForest (@DeForestNews6) April 23, 2020
Although those workers are not eligible for state unemployment money, the federal CARES Act signed into law March 27 provides a $600 weekly payment as well as an additional weekly payment of a maximum of $275, depending on the claimant’s prior wages.
Prior to Wednesday, freelance and contract workers who applied told News 6 their applications were denied due to their ineligibility for state funds.
Many have asked if they will need to resubmit their application to receive these benefits. On Thursday, a DEO spokesperson said those individuals will not need to repeat that step if they are already in the system.
The DEO website’s frequently asked questions section has been undergoing daily changes and now has information for people who qualify for CARES Act benefits. Here’s a link to the most recent guide, which includes guidance for CARES Act applicants.
More clarity is needed about when those workers will see payments and how they will learn when their CARES Act benefits have been approved.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that more than 505,000 Floridians filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, pushing the state's number of claims well past 1 million since businesses around the state started closing last month under lockdown orders from municipalities and then Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The number of unemployed Floridians could actually be much higher since problems with online filing have been widespread. The state's civilian workforce is about 10 million.
Of those who applied weeks ago who qualify for state unemployment, many are still waiting to receive payments from Florida.
As of Wednesday, about 17% of Florida unemployment claims have been paid out of more than 682,000 verified claims, according to the DEO dashboard.