69-year-old diabetic turns to News 6 after imposter files for benefits in her name
Marjorie Hollman, of Palm Beach County, spent four months of her life living on pasta and peanut butter sandwiches after an imposter used her identity to apply for state unemployment benefits with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Imposters use photos of actor in $2 million unemployment benefits scheme
When 63-year-old Eve met Antonio Sabato Jr. on the Plenty of Fish dating website three years ago she had no idea the popular actor’s photographs had been stolen by a team of international thieves and imposters to convince her to work as a so called “money mule.”
‘Incarceration status’ leaves single mom without unemployment benefits for 7 weeks
Victoria Thomas is the first to admit she was driving on a suspended driver license in 2018 but she cannot explain why that event prompted the Department of Economic Opportunity to suspend her state unemployment benefits.
Florida’s unemployment website Connect will be down Friday
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment website Connect will be unavailable Friday to process claims, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity. The DEO announced Thursday afternoon the reemployment assistance customer service center and the Connect portal would be down for all of Friday, March 26. The website will be down as the DEO works to process pandemic unemployment assistance benefits made available through the most recent federal coronavirus relief bill. It is the first time that weekly applications for jobless aid have fallen below 700,000 since mid-March of last year. Since last March, the Florida DEO has processed more than 5 million claims seeking unemployment benefits and paid out more than $24 billion to claimants, much of that from federal funding.
Unemployed commercial painter receives Florida unemployment benefits one year after filing
Ray Dumont, 26, had been waiting a year for $11,000 in unemployment benefits he applied for but was never able to collect from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Both he and his mother, Michelle, work as independent house painters in Panama City Beach but last March, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt. “Unless it’s new construction you’re not getting any work,” Michelle said. “If I didn’t get help from you guys on that locked account I probably wouldn’t be in the account,” Michelle said. If you have an unemployment issue email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida inspector general report finds longstanding problems with state unemployment system
The 95-page draft report by Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel focused on the Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT unemployment system, which cost $78 million and began operating in 2013. The system largely crashed last spring when it was inundated with claims as businesses shut down because of the pandemic. Ken Lawson resigned as department director in August, a little more than four months after DeSantis put Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter in charge of shoring up the CONNECT system. AdMiguel’s report awaits review and comments from vendors linked to CONNECT, including Deloitte Consulting, which was a major contractor. Deloitte sought to distance itself from the unemployment system last year, replying to a potential class-action lawsuit in June by saying it has had “no connection” to the online system in more than five years.
Florida unemployment below 19,000, lowest since pandemic began
Envelopes from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Reemployment Assistance Program are shown, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)Florida drew an estimated 18,982 first-time unemployment claims last week. The estimate from the U.S. Department of Labor for the week ending Feb. 13 represented the lowest total for a single week since the coronavirus pandemic began nearly a year ago. The federal agency initially estimated Florida received 17,621 new jobless applications during the week that ended Feb. 6. The national estimate for the week ending Feb. 6 had initially been 793,000, but was moved up to 848,000 in the latest count.
Gig worker says Florida unemployment ID verification is to blame for unpaid benefits
In the war against fraudulent unemployment claims the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity may be leaving eligible Florida families on indefinite hold. This week the DEO confirmed to News 6 that it will soon “fully integrate” the ID.me verification process into the agency’s Connect system. She lost the job in April because of the coronavirus pandemic and filed for unemployment benefits on May 20, 2020. “I have been searching for work,” Milan said. If you need to update your identity to apply for benefits go to: ID.me.
Former marine waits 4 months for Florida unemployment benefits
Despite collecting a paper trail from his former employers, he has been unable to secure unemployment benefits. The past year and a half he was working in Afghanistan with Virginia-based MAG Aerospace but when the coronavirus pandemic hit everything changed. Finley said the cost of Cobra health benefits --$1,500 a month-- has been depleting their savings. Finley said he turned to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for jobless benefits but was deemed ineligible despite producing pay stubs from his last employer. The information was sent to the DEO on Monday and by Wednesday afternoon Finley was able to access the first four weeks of his unemployment benefits.
Scammers targeting Florida residents seeking unemployment benefits
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is warning people about a scam targeting people seeking unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic. The DEO handles the state’s unemployment benefits, or payments, and has been slammed since March because of financial fallout from COVID-19. This is a scam,” the DEO warned, adding the scam email may come from an email address ending in .ULF.edu. Under a new coronavirus relief bill signed by President Trump this week pandemic unemployment benefits have been extended. Since March, the DEO has paid out more than $19.7 billion in unemployment benefits.
During furlough this Disney sous chef is using her baking to become an entrepreneur
Over the course of the pandemic many people have had to re-invent themselves after being laid-off or furloughed from their dream jobs. One recently laid-off Disney cast member is using her baking skills to keep her hopeful and busy. Olivia Gismervik had been working as a sous chef for Disney’s catering team the past 5 years. She then turned her focus to baking and offering cookies to friends and family on Facebook. “I am totally, totally sold out for Christmas.
Single father says no one can explain 16 missing unemployment checks
Vaughn Tucker has a high stakes unemployment mystery on his hands. According to the unemployed single father, 16 federal unemployment checks were sent to his Windemere apartment but were never delivered to his mailbox. “I have to be able to eat, I have to be able to feed my son,” the former Disney resort worker said. The agency is tracking the checks to determine if they were lost, stolen, or cashed by someone else. DEO Press Secretary Paige Landrum said there was an issue with the address in the system.
Florida lawmakers consider future of state unemployment system Connect in 2021
Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity website Connect may be weeks away from being tossed and replaced if Florida lawmakers like State Sen. Linda Stewart, (D) of Orlando, and State Rep. David Smith, (R) of Seminole County, have their way. The two are part of a growing number of legislators who want the aging system replaced by new technology that would be capable of handling the anticipated demand for state unemployment benefits. Several lawmakers including State Rep Anthony Sabatini, (R) of Lake County, and State Rep Randy Fine, (R) of Brevard County, said they want to see what is most cost effective first. DEO director Eagle said he hired ISF INC., an IT and strategy firm, to investigate the Connect system. He also plans to ask the legislature for an additional 108 employees to train on the Connect system.
Orlando senator launches food drive to help people struggling during the pandemic
ORLANDO, Fla. – State Sen. Linda Stewart (D) of Orlando launched a holiday food drive Monday to collect canned goods for families struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. 1 in unemployment,” Stewart said. “We are experiencing food insecurity all over central-Florida,” Stewart said from her office Monday. ”They can come anytime day or night to drop off canned foods or non-perishable goods.”Stewart’s staff set up a plastic bin she called “nothing fancy” outside of her Orlando office to make drop off of food donations easy. The office is located at 1726 S. Bumby Ave, Orlando, Florida 32806If you have an unemployment issue you can contact email@example.com
Former tech worker says DEO is using old records to deny unemployment benefits
Bill Zaccagnini has been trying to get state unemployment benefits since March but the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has denied his requests based on claims he filed two years ago. [TRENDING: Hundreds line up for free turkeys | COVID-19 vaccine FAQs | 11 things to be thankful for during pandemic]Records show circumstances surrounding the dismissal made him ineligible for standard unemployment benefits that year. State Rep. David Smith (R) of Seminole County District 28 said he is convinced the DEO’s Connect system is outdated and was never designed to accommodate the numbers seeking unemployment benefits. Zaccagnini meanwhile is hopeful the DEO will get the benefits issue cleared up before Christmas. He should be eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits if his regular state benefits have been exhausted.
Woman waiting on unemployment benefits says she’s forced to apply for high interest credit cards to pay utilities
“If something doesn’t happen in the next week or two I don’t know what we are going to be able to do, “she said. According to Brown, that triggered the “returned to work” status with the DEO that stopped her weekly benefits. “I don’t know how I’m going to pay my light bill right now,” she said. “You don’t know what this means,” a tearful Brown said. Thank you.”If you would like to help a family or you have an unemployment issue email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Economic Opportunity tracking return to work status of people on Florida unemployment 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. 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. I don’t know where to turn.”If you have an unemployment issue email email@example.com
DEO director asking legislature for more staff to handle thousands of unemployment claims
ORLANDO, Fla. – The long wait for unemployment benefits in the state of Florida is the reality of a system that handles “thousands of claims every week,” according to the Department of Economic Opportunity Director Dane Eagle. In an exclusive interview with News 6, Eagle said he has already hired 200 additional people to assist residents who have filed unemployment claims but he admits he is about to ask Tallahassee for more reinforcements. “Each one of them aren’t going to be able to flip the light switch and get them their claim," Eagle said. Ron DeSantis two months ago and since then has been working to improve response and investigate the much-maligned Connect system, the link used to file claims for unemployment benefits. The former state legislator said while the unemployment claims are slowly going down, there were another 67,000 new claims last week.
Furloughed truck driver says $260 paycheck cost her thousands in unemployment help
“The last time I was paid (by the Department of Economic Opportunity) was the week of July 5 to July 11,” she said. News 6 found the DEO website had the mother of two listed as having been discharged from BR Interviewing . When COVID-19 hit she was furloughed after just one month on the job. The Department has put together this video to help claimants navigate their CONNECT inbox. If you have an unemployment benefits issue send an email with a copy of your DEO account to firstname.lastname@example.org
After 13 weeks on hold, Florida women able to access unemployment benefits
When Kimberly Kleckly and Dominique Fusco emailed News 6 for help to secure unemployment benefits from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity they had already been waiting 13 weeks to receive financial relief. Both women had DEO unemployment CONNECT accounts that were active, eligible and on hold. Kleckly said she reported the new job to the DEO which suspended her benefits and placed her account on hold. Meanwhile, Dominque Fusco lost her Pensacola apartment to Hurricane Sally on Sept. 16 adding to the stress of waiting for unemployment benefits. “I can find a place to live now,10,000 pounds have been lifted from my shoulders.”If you have an unemployment benefits problem email us at email@example.com
Weekly unemployment claims up in Florida, across the country
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida and the nation saw upticks last week in first-time unemployment claims as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pummel the economy, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. Florida received an estimated 44,795 first-time unemployment claims during the week that ended Oct. 10, up from 42,306 in the prior week. Nationally, an estimated 898,000 initial claims were filed during the week that ended Oct. 10, up from 845,000 the prior week. For example, Indiana had an estimated 18,788 increase in initial claims, Illinois saw a 9,805 increase, and Massachusetts had an estimated 9,582 increase, according to the Department of Labor. The Department of Economic Opportunity has processed about 4.06 million unemployment claims since March 15.
Florida woman left homeless after Hurricane Sally still waiting for unemployment assistance
Dominque Fusco had been waiting for unemployment benefits for 13 weeks when Hurricane Sally delivered the final blow she did not need. The Pensacola woman and her husband were forced to leave their apartment after flooding from the Category 1 storm she said “totally destroyed” their apartment and most of their belongings. “My husband, I and two animals (huskies) had to swim to our truck to get out,” Fusco said. Fusco said she had not seen a change in her DEO account status despite having told supervisors she lost her home to Hurricane Sally. On Sept. 16 the seventh hurricane of the very active 2020 hurricane season battered the city of Pensacola and Escambia County causing an estimated $124 million in damages.
Florida unemployment ‘over payment’ leaves unemployed chef without benefits for 5 months
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Joshua Arroyo is a chef without a job, unemployment benefits or his own place to live and he blames the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for his predicament. The 30-year-old Ocoee man was furloughed from his job as executive chef at the Wyndham Hotel on March 20 and said he filed for unemployment benefits the same day. Arroyo said he called the Department of Economic Opportunity to “notify them” that he had found employment and was told to keep the last $256 unemployment payment. State Sen. Linda Stewart (Orlando-D) has been making trips to Tallahassee every two weeks to personally deliver unemployment claims to the DEO office for constituents like Arroyo who are still waiting for their unemployment benefits. In Joshua Arroyo’s case, the DEO team was able to issue a payment but an issue prompted a delay on additional checks.
Firm tied to Floridas troubled unemployment website won contract by submitting lowest bid, governor says
ORLANDO, Fla. The firm that originally created Floridas unemployment website CONNECT, which has been called a clunker by the governor, won the state contract by default because it submitted the lowest bid, according to Gov. Deloitte Consulting recently obtained another state contract, causing outrage from lawmakers and Floridians who have had to interact with the unemployment system. Deloitte beat out four other firms for the $135 million contract. There is an ongoing inspector general investigation into the unemployment website contract process including why the contract was amended 14 times. DeSantis said legally he cannot interfere in the state contract selection process.
Melbourne woman loses food stamps, blames DEO for unemployment benefits error
The Melbourne woman said she was furloughed from Land and Sea Inc. on March 24. Finn said she had turned to a daily food line at the Sherwood Elementary School because she has no other options. “I’ve been calling at least 50-times a day if not more,” she said of the DEO call center. If you would like to help Nicole and her family or you have an unemployment issue email firstname.lastname@example.orgThere is a form available to fast track DEO cases. Have you received any payments as of yet (State, Federal, or both)?
Judge weighs future of Florida unemployment lawsuit
After four hours of arguments Monday, a Leon County circuit judge will decide whether to move forward with a potential class-action lawsuit stemming from massive problems in Florida’s unemployment-compensation system. Attorneys for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Deloitte Consulting, a contractor that helped put the online system in place in 2013, argued that Judge John Cooper should dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed after a crush of coronavirus-caused unemployment claims overwhelmed the system this spring. Cooper last month rejected a preliminary injunction that plaintiffs sought to force the Department of Economic Opportunity to “fix” the system. Department of Economic Opportunity attorney Daniel Nordby argued Monday, in part, that the lawsuit should be dismissed because of the constitutional separation of powers between judges and the executive branch. The plaintiffs’ attorneys filed the lawsuit in April after major problems with Florida’s CONNECT online unemployment system, which even Gov.
Hundreds of unemployed workers demanding change for DEO benefits system
Hundreds of unemployed workers demanding change for DEO benefits systemPublished: June 9, 2020, 6:30 pmWednesday will be “Fix It DEO” day in Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee for Fix-It Florida, a grassroots group fighting to bring attention to the delays in state’s jobless benefits for hundreds of unemployed Florida workers.
Contractor Deloitte distances itself from Florida’s troubled unemployment system
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After facing weeks of criticism because of Florida’s troubled unemployment system, Deloitte Consulting LLP said in a newly filed court document that it has had “no connection” to the online system in more than five years. Deloitte had a state contract to develop the CONNECT unemployment system, which began operating in 2013. “Deloitte has had no involvement in the implementation, maintenance or upgrade of the CONNECT system for more than five years,” the company’s attorneys wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “And it has never had any involvement in processing or adjudicating the state’s unemployment benefit claims, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CONNECT system was not able to handle the surge of applications, forcing the state to scramble to try to shore up the claims process ---- and leading Gov.
Furloughed Epcot worker waiting for unemployment benefits living on canned vegetables, help from friends
ORLANDO, Fla. – Dan Crowder’s wait for unemployment benefits has turned into a 8-week test of endurance as the furloughed Disney worker waits for his first check from the Florida Department of Employment Opportunity. By April 19, an estimated 43,000 Disney World employees were out of work with health benefits still covered by the entertainment giant. Disney employees furloughed due to closures were automatically enrolled in Florida’s unemployment system known as CONNECT. Crowder’s wait for benefits seems to reflect the frustration hundreds of people have reported their benefits are “pending” without explanation. If you would like to help Dan Crowder or you have an unemployment issue email us at email@example.com.
Florida says it’s now ready to pay federal pandemic benefits to those who have exhausted unemployment
About two months after federal pandemic aid under the CARES Act was signed into law, Florida is ready to administer aid to those who were unemployed prior to coronavirus-related layoffs. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, is the federal program that provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law. Ron DeSantis, to over see the state’s pandemic unemployment surge said on April 30 in a Q&A the Florida DEO was working on being able to administer those benefits. Before this week, people who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits and were told to apply for federal benefits couldn’t find the application on Floridajobs.org because the state wasn’t ready to process those benefits. Since March, more than 2 million unemployment claims have been filed in Florida, according to the DEO Dashboard.
Data breach exposes Social Security info of some Floridians seeking unemployment benefits
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida agency that handles unemployment benefits said they recently had a “data security incident” that may have compromised information from Floridians seeking unemployment. The incident exposed full names and Social Security numbers of some people who have applied for unemployment benefits, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department of Economic Opportunity said they had to deal with a data security incident associated with reemployment assistance claims, otherwise known as unemployment benefits, according to the DEO. When people apply for unemployment benefits they must include personal information, including names, addresses, and social security numbers. How did the security incident happen?
New jobless claims in Florida stabilize week to week
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that Floridians filed 223,927 jobless claims last week, compared to 223,082 claims filed in the previous week. Only California and New York had more new claims filed last week. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has received more than 2 million claims seeking unemployment benefits from Floridians, though only 1.6 million claims have been verified. Just under 1 million jobless workers in Florida have been paid more than $2.6 billion in benefits. Florida's workforce before pandemic-related business closures stood at 10 million workers.
Florida unemployment system flip flop leaves medical assistant without benefits but coworkers receive payments
Two months after being furloughed from her position with a mobile ultrasound service Meagan Johnson, a veteran medical assistant, said she still has no unemployment benefits from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. I have bills, I keep calling trying to get them postponed.”Johnson has worked for Life Line Screening for 7 years. “The day it turned ineligible was the day the rest of my co-workers got paid," she said. "Power ,water, mortgage rent and car payment.”Hecht said this will be a new experience for a workforce that has never experienced unemployment before. If you would like to help Meagan Johnson or you have an unemployment issue to share email News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld firstname.lastname@example.org.
Radiation therapist furloughed March 29 still hasnt received unemployment benefits
I dont believe that it (the DEO website) has ever worked," she said. On March 29, she was told not to report to work because the center was not taking new patients. Ron DeSantis to pay the unemployment benefits now and review the applications later. After being asked about people who are in limbo after being denied or havent heard anything for weeks the governor asked for a list. Give me the names," DeSantis told reporters.