RUSKIN, Fla. (WFLA) – An army veteran and father of three is going on three months since he was approved for unemployment benefits and says he has yet to see a dime. After spending this whole time trying to find out why his account was locked he reached out to 8 On Your Side.
Mark Johnson lives a pretty simple life in Ruskin; a life on the water. He and his wife live on a boat with their three kids, but he was let go from his job several months ago and applied for unemployment March 1.
“The process was easy. I was able to go online and fill out everything. It was approved,” said Johnson.
Great news…until a couple of weeks later.
“When I checked back the following week it said that my account was locked, and from there it was just…That’s when my nightmare started,” said Johnson.
Locked and not knowing why he spent nearly three months trying to contact someone at the Department of Economic Opportunity.
“I called literally everyday. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty times, sometimes every half hour on the hour all day long,” said Johnson.
Meanwhile he says his family is suffering.
“We really, really cut back and made due with the less income, but even with cutting everything back you still have a mortgage, you still have payments, you still have to go to the doctor,” said Johnson.
8 On Your Side reached out to a DEO spokesperson who tells us Johnson is not the only person locked out of his CONNECT account. They have launched a website to help identify people having trouble.
Johnson says waiting three months is too long to fix this problem and that the state is not doing a good job.
“I’ve paid into this system for 25 years. I’ve never made an unemployment claim here in Florida. I’m disappointed in the lack of communication,” said Johnson.
The DEO also has a number where people can call to unlock their accounts. That number is 1-833- FL APPLY. 1-833-352-7759. Select the “Fraud” prompt.
As for Mark Johnson, a spokesperson tells 8 On Your Side they will look into his account and contact him.
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