ORLANDO, Fla. – After telling News 6 last week that contractors and self-employed workers would not need to reapply through the Florida system to receive unemployment payments, the Department of Economic Opportunity now says anyone who was declared ineligible who applied on or before April 4 will need to reapply because of Florida law and the start of a new quarter.
Last week a DEO spokesperson said workers who qualify for federal pandemic benefits, including contractors, gig workers and self-employed individuals and received a notice they were ineligible would not have to reapply to receive the federal benefits under the CARES Act, but on Tuesday the DEO released a chart showing that those who applied on or before April 4 would need to re-submit their applications.
This re-application actually applies to all workers who applied before April 5, including those who file W-2 and 1099 tax forms, not just those who only qualify for federal benefits, due to a Florida state law that requires unemployed individuals to re-apply at the start of a new quarter. The first quarter ended March 31.
“Many individuals who filed a claim in the first quarter of the year (prior to April 5), because of state law (Section 443.036(10) they will need to file a new state Reemployment Assistance application for the second quarter of the year,” DEO Director of Communication Tiffany Vause said in an email. "They should go to FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim” and this will assist them.
In a flow chart the DEO explained the next steps for people who were denied benefits.
According to the chart, those workers who applied on or before April 4 will need to apply again at Floridajobs.org. After successfully submitting the application, they will be contacted to complete additional questions in the CONNECT system to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
For those who applied on or after April 5, they will also need to wait to hear from the DEO for more information.
All workers unable to work due to the pandemic, even those who qualify for state benefits, are eligible for PUA benefits, according to the DEO. A DEO spokeswoman said the best way to receive those checks is to re-apply if they were declared ineligible due to the new quarter.
PUA benefits include up to $275 per week (for up to 39 weeks) plus an additional $600 per week of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation available until July 31.
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. The DEO has paid 392,051 claimants a total of more than $523 million, according to the latest numbers.
“Oh no I think we are over patience at this point, we have got to get these people their checks," Senator Linda Stewart said.
DEO officials issued a statement Monday evening addressing guidance for workers who were told they were ineligible for benefits:
"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.
“We aren’t getting direction and people want to know what can I do, I really need my money,” Sen. Stewart said.
“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.
“You can’t just say you’re ineligible and not tell them why," Senator Stewart said.
Check back for updates on this developing story.