Furloughed cruise line shuttle employee says unemployment benefits caught in ‘Groundhog Day’

$6,200 locked in DEO glitch since September

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – Stephanie Jernigan said she has been living a self-described scene from “Groundhog Day” with the same message repeated from the Department of Economic Opportunity since the end of September.

The message on her DEO account is the stuff that drives Florida’s unemployed crazy: ”You already have an active claim in the system.”

News 6 reviewed her DEO account and found the issue is tied to the renewal of her quarterly application filed in October.

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“Everything was going fine until the end of September,” she told News 6. “But now I’m in some kind of technical error loop.”

Jernigan was furloughed from her transport coordinator position with Lux2 Transfer in Merritt Island in March but was unable to receive unemployment benefits until June.

That delay was caused by a name change in company ownership but this time there is no obvious explanation for the problems with the DEO Connect system.

“Yesterday I called 63 times to get a busy signal,” she said. “Every week, they (DEO) say they have a emailed a supervisor for the Connect Issue but they can’t tell me when it will be resolved.”

News 6 presented Jernigan’s files to the DEO in an attempt to fast track her case.

DEO Press Secretary Paige Landrum said the files are under review.

“We have sent Ms. Jernigan’s information to our Reemployment Assistance team so that they can take a look into her account,” Landrum said.

Landrum said each new quarter provides the “opportunity to reapply for benefits” on a quarterly basis, following federal guidance.

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According to Landrum, the DEO must determine if individuals who are currently receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) are ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits. Additional information about the quarter change can be found below:

  • Click here for the Quarter Change PUA step-by-step guide
  • Click here for the Quarter Change PUA questionnaire video
  • Click here for the Quarter Change PEUC step-by-step guide
  • Click here for the Quarter Change PEUC questionnaire video
  • Click here for the Quarter Change fact sheet

If an individual has specific questions on their claim, the quickest way to receive assistance is to call the Reemployment Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.

If you have an unemployment benefits issue, email News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld at makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.