TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – More than a quarter-million Floridians filed for unemployment last week. As of Friday, just over 41 percent of the unique claims had been paid.
Florida is one of the cheapest and slowest states when it comes to paying benefits.
The $275 a week benefits were set in 1999. If they had kept up with inflation, the weekly stipend would be at $432 and change.
Democrats failed in their attempt to force a special session to deal with compensation.
In a conference call during a lawsuit seeking to speed up payments, Attorney Steve Andrews called it par for the course.
“I’ve never seen any state make it easy for poor folks to be paid,” said Andrews.
The latest statistics show just 48 percent of the 1.3 million plus claims have been paid.
“It’s amazingly frustrating,” said unemployed Cape Coral graphic designer Kathy Read.
Read has waited weeks. Contrast that with her son who lives in Massachusetts.
“He did his application on a Friday afternoon. On Tuesday, he got five weeks of back pay. So it’s astonishing to me that there could be such an extreme difference,” said Read.
She isn’t alone. About one in three claims remains stuck in a verification cue.
The delay sparked a three-car protest Monday afternoon. With honking horns, the group drove around the block that houses the state’s unemployment agency.
Laura Tweed came from Central Florida. She called the trip worth the cost of gas.
“I am sick and tired. No one will return our calls. I’ve gone to all my congressmen, my senators, my legislators. I’ve gone everywhere,” said Tweed.
Only three states and Puerto Rico offer smaller benefits than Florida.
The number of claims denied since March 15 topped 300,000 Monday.
If you have been turned down, you are allowed to appeal.