Chad and Nicole Book have been waiting more than 22 weeks for the Department of Economic Opportunity to release their unemployment benefits after their accounts showed they were “double dipping.”
The couple told News 6 there were no problems with their DEO accounts until they “recertified.”
“When we recertified, it brought up two accounts,” Chad said. “You can’t collect from two accounts. They said they were able to fix the problem, but I still haven’t received payments and I’m financially strapped.”
The Books’ situation is among more than 3 million total issues currently pending adjudication and according to the DEO, they are among 115,706 unemployment accounts ”holding payment.”
For Chad and Nicole, that weekly hold represented more than $25,000 in benefits badly needed and never issued.
“Bill collectors and landlords aren’t really listening, you know, that (the money) is going to come, it’s real frustrating,” Chad said.
The couple met 9 years ago while working at a plant in Fort Myers. COVID-19 forced the company to shut down, so they downsized and tried to find work to cover their bills.
Chad told News 6 he was able to find a few part-time jobs but nothing that lasted long or covered their expenses.
“I tell them (DEO) I could be without a car, without a place here soon and they just say they’re sorry,” he said.
Nicole said the pressure of making ends meet has been difficult.
“It’s really frustrating,” she said. “We’re losing sleep, it’s not good.”
State Senator Linda Stewart (D) District 13 said the amount of state unemployment issues still unresolved caught her by surprise.
“I really thought we were much further than this,” Stewart said. “We’ve been dealing with this for a long time, and I would have expected this number would have been far less.”
DEO Director Dane Eagle has launched an aggressive effort to bring in a total of 1,300 part-time and full-time employees along with “vendor outsourcing” to complete the work on the outstanding issues.
The latest DEO data obtained by News 6 shows nearly 728,000 claimants are receiving benefits.
According to the DEO, there are a variety of issues ranging from 53,588 claims pending monetary determination to 272,000 issues locked because of “potential fraud.”
The Reemployment Assistance Help Center is the perfect tool for claimants and employers to notify DEO of instances of Reemployment Assistance fraud or identity theft, provide documentation to DEO, verify their identity, complete their work searches, and serves as a repository of resource guides and FAQs for claimants and employers who have additional questions regarding Reemployment Assistance.
The DEO tells News 6 claimants should only submit one form per request. Some requests may take up to three weeks to resolve, some are much quicker.
If you have an unemployment issue and you want us to present it to the DEO, email: firstname.lastname@example.org