PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Sarah Black admits she hung up on the Department of Economic Opportunity employee when she was told “don’t waste your time” when she asked about jobless payments dating back to mid-March.
The Port Charlotte single mother of two told News 6 the recent phone call to the DEO left her “defeated.”
“Every payment says ‘hold indefinite,’ so they’re not making the payments,” she said.
The DEO told her a question regarding possible fraud triggered a rejection for her first application for benefits in March.
She said she was told to file again and was approved for state reemployment benefits but denied Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Her DEO unemployment claims sheet confirms she started receiving state and federal jobless benefits on June 6.
“I’m thinking well, if it’s fraud why are you not paying me for three whole months?” she said .
DEO press secretary Paige Landrum said because Black was eligible for state jobless benefits, the PUA benefits were no longer available to her.
News 6 presented Black’s information to the DEO and the staff started investigating the case.
In an email on Tuesday, Landrum wrote: “Our Reemployment Assistance team has been working with Ms. Black directly on her claim to ensure she receives all benefits owed to her. "
During a visit to the DEO office in Tallahassee last week, State Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando was told the computer system is slow at best, making adjustments to cases time consuming.
“They make the correction necessary,” Stewart said. “But then they wait overnight for the computer to update that correction.”
Stewart has been making her trademark shuttle diplomacy trips to the state capitol every two weeks to make sure her constituents receive the benefits they are eligible for.
According to the DEO reemployment assistance claims dashboard, an estimated 651,000 claims are still listed as ineligible but 95%of Florida’s jobless claims have been paid.
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