TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The clock is ticking on an unemployment benefit that many who are out of work in the Tampa Bay area are banking on.
This is the last week to claim benefits that will include the weekly $600 bonus from the federal government, known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.
Other federal programs – including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for the self-employed in lieu of state benefits and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – will continue.
With the federal program coming to an end, Floridians who had their benefits delayed are scrambling to get paid. That includes some, like Pinellas County resident Nancy Adkins, who had her payments interrupted by a technical glitch in May.
The DEO promises backpay for delayed payments, meaning that if recipients were qualified and claimed benefits through the week ending in July 25, they’re still entitled to and will receive the $600 in weekly federal benefits. It’s just a question of when.
It’s a question Adkins can’t afford to ask anymore.
“Every time I call, they go ‘don’t worry, it’s just a glitch, it will work itself out,'” Adkins explained. “I’m to the point now where I have a hundred bucks to my name.”
It’s been two months since Adkins received benefits after getting furloughed in March. Expenses like car payments and rent are racking up. She appears to have been caught in what the Department of Economic Opportunity characterized as a “technology concern” from mid-May.
That’s when the DEO failed to submit information for thousands of unemployment recipients to the federal government, creating a delay in the weekly federal bonus. The mistake came to light a few weeks later after lawmakers and news outlets like 8 On Your Side were flooded with thousands of complaints.
“In June when I called, they told me this was the issue and said 72 hours to have it resolved,” Adkins said. “(Those) 72 hours have well come and gone.”
An 8 On Your Side survey of unemployment problems conducted last week found nearly 20 percent of respondents also experienced payments that suddenly stopped and never resumed.
The DEO reports roughly 96 percent of eligible claimants have been paid but admits those figures don’t factor in whether you’ve been paid all of what you’re owed.
Concerned with how pandemic unemployment has been handled in Florida, watchdog group the Oversight Council of Florida is now demanding the DEO release records detailing both state and federal benefit disbursement.
8 On Your Side has not heard back from DEO regarding Adkins’ delay and what could be causing it. When we’ve asked the same question in the past, the only plausible explanation we received pertained to failure to claim weeks.
Adkins maintains she’s faithfully claimed her benefits every week.
“If you guys can’t help me, there is not help, that’s what I know,” Adkins said via Zoom.
Federal lawmakers are addressing a new economic stimulus package this week but it is unlikely they’ll approve anything before the $600 payments run out.
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