Florida DEO limits number of people able to access CONNECT unemployment site

More than 404,000 unemployment payments made as of Tuesday

The North Shore Branch Library branch manager Katherine Ehlers, rear, stands at a table with Reemployment Assistance Application forms in different languages, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. A half million Floridians applied for unemployment benefits last week, as a statewide task force continues examining when businesses shuttered because of the new coronavirus can reopen. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Adding to the frustrations of Floridians unable to work due to the coronavirus, anyone attempting to check on the status of their unemployment benefits or trying to reapply for federal assistance may experience difficulties because the Department of Economic Opportunity said it is limiting the number of users about to access the CONNECT website.

In a series of tweets the DEO, which manages the state unemployment program, said they are limiting the number of users who can be logged in at one time.

“We understand that limiting the system will cause frustration, but by doing this, users will have a better experience with fewer delays. Our efforts are working- claims are being processed and Floridians are getting paid,” the tweet read. “We are working to bolster the system by controlling the amount of users that are logged onto CONNECT, but also giving a timeline as to when a user can log back on and not have issues.”

The statement did not include information about how many users can be logged onto CONNECT or when the limited access would be lifted.

People have reported issues accessing their CONNECT account or attempting to re-apply for pandemic unemployment assistance benefits on the website Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to the DEO, the CONNECT system updates once a day and due to nightly maintenance processing claims the system is only available from 8 a.m. to 7:59 p.m.

This comes after the DEO revealed, some of the more than 266,000 individuals who were deemed ineligible need to reapply through the CONNECT system if they applied prior to April 5.

More than 404,000 payments have been made totaling $553 million as of Tuesday evening, the last time the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity dashboard was updated. More than 835,000 unique unemployment claims have been filed as of Tuesday.

Since March when coronavirus closures and layoffs begin, hundreds of thousands of Floridians have struggled to file for unemployment due to issues with the application system CONNECT or unable to get through to a person at the DEO call center.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s coronavirus unemployment czar John Satter have not revealed when Floridians who have been waiting on benefits would see retroactive payments.

Satter, Florida Department of Management Services secretary, was tapped by the governor to lead the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity through its coronavirus unemployment surge.

In an interview with News 6 on April 22, Satter said the DEO will provide retroactive benefits to those who’ve lost jobs since March 9.

In a request for answers about the CONNECT issues some users reported to News 6 the DEO had not responded as of this report.

Check back for updates on this developing story.