TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Governor Ron DeSantis is defending Florida’s unemployment system, suggesting that if someone hasn’t received benefits after more than 30 days, the problem is likely on the applicant’s end.
8 On Your Side investigative reporter Victoria Price asked viewers who waited a month or more for benefits, or an explanation from the Department of Economic Opportunity, to reach out.
Thousands responded, submitting a short survey including name, claimant ID, and contact information we used to compile a list to submit to the governor and the DEO.
During a Friday press conference in Jacksonville, Governor DeSantis got into a heated exchange with a reporter who asked about unemployment applicants waiting since mid-March.
“Who’s been waiting?” the governor asked. “Can you give me the names?…I would like to get those names.”
The governor’s response didn’t sit well with Jay Alley, a Pasco County father who has been fighting for unemployment since getting laid off in March.
“How condescending can you get?” Alley asked. “He might have as well come up and spit in my face.”
Alley is one of the more than 3,700 unemployment seekers who filled out 8 On Your Side’s form between Friday night and Monday afternoon. They either can’t get benefits or determine what’s wrong with their claim, and the majority have been out of work and trying to file for unemployment since March.
The governor maintains that the vast majority of eligible applicants have been paid. If people have not been paid, he said nine out of 10 times the applicant is not eligible or has an incomplete claim.
But that argument doesn’t gel with Alley, who says he keeps getting rejected but then told to re-apply, never with an explanation. Even if he doesn’t qualify for state benefits, he should be receiving the federal assistance allocated in the CARES Act.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m just so exhausted,” he told 8 On Your Side.
The data we collected showed the largest group of people who filled out the form lost their jobs in March and have been trying to claim unemployment ever since.
Jay Alley may be out of money, but he’s still got plenty of determination.
“I’ve always been a fighter,” he said. “I’m going to keep fighting.”
The DEO has promised 8 On Your Side the list will be given to a dedicated team who will check each claim and contact the individual. However, due to privacy concerns, the agency tells us it will not be able to share with us any claim information they discover.
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