Florida man issued $3,500 after 2 years of disqualifying for jobless benefits

DEO and Make Ends Meet end 2-year ‘disqualification’ mystery

Eric Reyes could be the face of frustrated unemployment claimants across the state of Florida. The Winter Park man was unemployed in 2021 and 2022 for a total of 10 weeks, yet he never received a single payment between jobs because, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity, his requests were “disqualified.”

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Eric Reyes could be the face of frustrated unemployment claimants across the state of Florida.

The Winter Park man was unemployed in 2021 and 2022 for a total of 10 weeks, yet he never received a single payment between jobs because, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity, his requests were “disqualified.”

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“I just kind of gave up on it,” Reyes told News 6. ”I figured, ‘All right, well, they’re not going to help me.’”

Reyes just landed a job as a banking analyst, but in 2021, he lost a warehouse job and was out of work for five weeks before getting a customer service position, which he subsequently lost in early 2022.

“You call (the DEO number) and it hangs up on you,” Reyes said. “The main issue was nobody ever reaching out by phone to let me know what was happening.”

News 6 and Make Ends Meet presented his account information to the DEO and an investigator found that every time Reyes filed for benefits he said he had worked in 2019.

That made it appear as if he was employed while filing for unemployment benefits.

Years later, the DEO issued payments totaling $3,500 into his bank account giving him badly needed funds to cover past bills.

“I got the five weeks I was due last time (in 2021) and I got the weeks due this time,“ Reyes said. “You definitely got the results I wanted and you helped me out a ton because I would have been at a loss.”

DEO Press Secretary Morgan Jones told News 6 anyone that needs to speak to someone regarding their ID.me status has that option now.

“This option does not require the claimant to take a selfie and can be selected once the claimant signs into their ID.me account,” Jones said.

For step-by-step instructions on how claimants can select this option, click here.

Since Make Ends Meet debuted two years ago, the News 6 franchise has helped families in Florida and several states to collect more than $2 million in unemployment benefits.

If you have an unemployment issue, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words “Make Ends Meet” to 407-676-7428 along with the issue you are facing.


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.