Department of Economic Opportunity tracking return to work status of people on Florida unemployment benefits

Individuals can file proof they are not earning a paycheck to qualify for benefits

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity launched a new initiative this week to sort out unemployment claims from individuals who returned to work but became unemployed again.

Hundreds of Florida residents who have tried to get back into the workforce have reported job separation that created the need for additional unemployment benefits.

State DEO Director Dane Eagle said unemployment claimants received notifications this week that provided a link to a new website for return to work issues.

“That’s one of the more complicated issues,” Eagle said. “Whether there is a work determination, a backdate issue or adjudication issues.”

Eagle said pure volume of unemployment claims has been the agency’s No. 1 issue and getting roughly 100 additional employees will be his top priority moving into the new Florida legislative session.

In a statement issued this week the DEO said anyone who received a notification should complete the questionnaire in the link to help determine their eligibility for benefits.

To utilize the new website a claimant must have a “Return to Work Issue” associated with their claim and have been notified by the DEO.

Eagle wants anyone in that return to work category to understand it is something that takes more time to review and process.

“We need to make a wage determination and employee separation, he said, it’s an issue we need to take a look into and it will take more involvement from us as an agency.”

Cara Christiano said health issues forced her to leave three temporary jobs but she is still listed as returned to work on her DEO Connect account despite being unemployed.

She said she has been waiting to get her benefits reinstated since June.

“I worked three small jobs for a total of maybe two weeks,” she said. “I’ve used up everything, my savings and now I’m just trying to live day by day.”

Christiano received an email link to the new DEO website Monday night she said she completed the form and is hopeful her long wait for help will be over.

“This back pay would help tremendously,” she said. “The bills are piling up, my car is about ready to be repossessed. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn.”

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