ORLANDO, Fla. – Unemployed Florida residents have many questions about the state’s troubled unemployment system, specifically, when they will see the money they’ve been waiting on for weeks to buy food or pay for housing due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, two state senators will host a Facebook live with the official overseeing the state’s coronavirus unemployment response.
The Facebook live will likely be flooded with questions for Department of Management Services Secretary John Satter. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Satter to step in and oversee the state’s unemployment surge.
Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo and Sen. Jeff Brandes will host a video Q&A with Satter from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday on Pizzo’s Facebook page.
Since mid-March Floridians unable to work due to the pandemic have struggled to receive unemployment benefits through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website CONNECT or to speak to a human due to the volume of calls and applications.
News 6 has received hundreds of calls and emails from people who are still waiting on benefits and spend hours a day trying to get answers.
To help handle the influx of calls and applications the DEO has brought in contractors to the tune of $120 million and counting, state spending records show, and more than 2,000 state employees from other agencies are also processing applications.
Prior to the live event, people were encouraged to email questions to Pizzo’s office at email@example.com.
As of Wednesday, the DEO has made more than 416,000 unemployment benefit payments out of the 916,000 unique claims submitted, according to the most recent numbers on the DEO Dashboard. The state has paid more than $579 million in unemployment, more than half funded by federal pandemic aid.
More than 266,00 people declared ineligible for benefits have been asked to reapply if they applied before April 5, according to the DEO, however, that may prove difficult because the DEO is limiting the number of users who can log into the CONNECT system at one time.
Satter previously told News 6 those who have been waiting on benefits would receive retroactive payments but did not disclose when or how that would happen.
News 6 will also be listening in Thursday hoping to get responses to many unanswered questions. Check back for updates.