ORLANDO, Fla. – As Florida’s unemployment website was down processing claims over the weekend, thousands of Floridians unable to work due to the coronavirus were denied benefits, many of whom qualify under the federal coronavirus stimulus bill but have been given no instruction on how or when they will receive the federal benefits.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the department that manages the state’s unemployment system, more than 40% of 824,279 verified claims submitted were declared ineligible by Monday.
Reports from some of those workers indicate many who were denied benefits are contractors or independent workers who don’t qualify for state benefits but do qualify under the federal CARES Act.
Contractors, gig workers and the self-employed can receive federal benefits through the state application system, according to the DEO. The department said last week those workers who applied and were denied do not need to reapply, however, on Tuesday the DEO said workers who applied prior to April 5 will need to re-submit applications.
Many over the weekend received notifications that determined they were ineligible and did not received guidance on why their claims were denied or how to move forward.
Florida Department of Management Services Secretary John Satter, who is leading the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity through its coronavirus unemployment surge, said CARES Act beneficiaries “will go through the same process as anyone would for the state unemployment process."
The DEO website’s frequently asked questions section has information for people who qualify for CARES Act benefits. Here’s a link to the most recent guide, which includes minimal information for CARES Act applicants.
“Florida is currently working to distribute these funds to eligible individuals and will be providing more information,” the FAQ reads regarding CARES Act funds.
As of Monday, the DEO has made at least one payment to 386,926 claimants, or 46.9% of the more than 824,000 verified claims, totaling more than $497 million.
During a briefing Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said about 500,000 Floridians would receive checks Monday, saying that, “If you had a job and lost it, obviously you’re eligible."
DEO officials issued a statement Monday evening addressing guidance for self-employed and contract workers:
"This weekend, we made significant progress in processing claims so that individuals across the state could get paid their Reemployment Assistance benefits. Last week, the department paid almost $412 million to Floridians, which is an increase of almost 600% over the week.
"During this process, many individuals were deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits. There are numerous reasons someone could be deemed not eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, including wage base period issues, lack of wage history, among others. You can review the Reemployment Assistance Handbook here, which has examples of why individuals could be deemed ineligible. Each person deemed not eligible for state Reemployment Assistance receives a notification regarding their eligibility.
“Many of the individuals that were deemed ineligible this weekend could be eligible for federal benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The agency is working diligently to get more detailed information to individuals who may be eligible for federal benefits. This week, individuals will be able to log-in to CONNECT and complete the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program after they were deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits,” the statement read.