Florida hairstylist waits year and a half for unemployment benefits

News 6, DEO work to get $4.400 issued to Way2Go account

Carsa Craighton has been waiting since December 2020 to have more than $4,000 in state unemployment benefits reissued to her Way2Go debit card after the Department of Economic Opportunity took the funds back.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Carsa Craighton has been waiting since December 2020 to have more than $4,000 in state unemployment benefits reissued to her Way2Go debit card after the Department of Economic Opportunity took the funds back.

“It’s too much,” she told News 6. “It’s been going on too long, and there’s no solution.”

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The Hollywood, Florida, hair and make-up artist admits she misplaced the card and never set up a PIN to activate her account.

Because the funds were never withdrawn, the DEO followed security protocol and cleared the account.

Ironically, when Craighton finally activated the debit card, she received weekly unemployment benefits without a glitch, but the funds from 2020 were never reissued.

“I don’t understand why it’s taking so long,” she said, “if you see that the card is (activated) and you have the funds, why not give it back?”

Craighton said she is struggling to make ends meet and that the additional $4,400 would ease some of the financial pressure.

“I need it right now,” she told News 6. “Gas prices are like $5, I need groceries. I really and truly need it, that’s why I make so many calls like every month.”

The Make Ends Meet team contacted the DEO Reemployment team and the staff “resolved” the issue in 48 hours.

DEO deputy director of communications Morgan Jones told News 6 claimants cannot leave funds on a Way2Go debit card account beyond 180 days.

Jones said DEO staffers reviewed the account status in this case with no “issues or delays.”

“Payments take additional time to process and post once they are issued,” Jones said. “Processing time varies, but is typically a couple of days.”

Many claimants across the state have been contacting News 6 asking IF they are still eligible for back benefits.

If you are eligible for unemployment benefits, we will work with the DEO to make it right.

Also, as we first reported, claimants now have the option to verify their identities for the option to verify their identities for Reemployment Assistance accounts directly with a live human agent. This option does not require the claimant to take a selfie and can be selected once the claimant signs into their ID.me account. For step-by-step instructions on how claimants can select this option, click here.

Deo Secretary Dane Eagle has been sensitive to the frustration some claimants have reported and wants the process to have a human touch.

“In our continued efforts to serve Floridians, Reemployment Assistance claimants will now have the option to verify their identities directly with a live agent,” Eagle told News 6. “Making resources accessible to Floridians while prioritizing data security is a top priority for DEO, and we are pleased to offer an additional option that accomplishes this goal.”


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.