TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity revealed Tuesday that Floridians who were denied state unemployment benefits but qualify for federal assistance will need to reapply if they filed prior to April 5th.
That includes independent contractors, gig workers, and self-employed workers who were originally told by the DEO they would not need to reapply and their applications would carry over once the state established a system for federal pandemic funds, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Claimants must reapply due to Florida state statute 443.036 which requires those seeking unemployment to file each fiscal quarter. Q1 ended on March 31st.
That law applies to W2 workers as well, meaning anyone who filed for unemployment benefits prior to April 5th and was denied should apply again in the new quarter.
A spokesperson for DEO says those who are receiving benefits do not need to reapply. She did not clarify why the quarterly reapplication requirement does not pertain to those recipients.
8 On Your Side found out a whopping 40 percent of Floridians seeking unemployment have been denied so far.
According to a spokesperson with the DEO, “individuals who filed a claim in the first quarter of the year (prior to April 5), because of state law, they will need to file a new state Reemployment Assistance application for the second quarter of the year. They should go to FloridaJobs.org and select ‘File a Claim’ and this will assist them.”
The DEO announced Tuesday that the federal funds for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program are now available to eligible Floridians.
As a self-employed hair stylist, Beth Lammon is one of the thousands of out-of-work Floridians who don’t qualify for state unemployment assistance but can receive pandemic assistance from the federal government.
She was shocked to find her claim denied Monday. The little word “ineligible” was enough to send the single mom to her knees, after filing in March and waiting five weeks for assistance with zero income.
“Just emotional collapse, my whole world changed,” Lammon said. “Everyone is panicking the money is going to run out.”
Workers who applied on or before April 4th will need to reapply at Floridajobs.org. Once the new application is submitted, the DEO says it will contact you with additional information in order to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
However, 8 On Your Side spoke to applicants trying to reapply as instructed, only to once again face issue with the CONNECT site kicking them off.
Those who applied on or after April 5th don’t need to take any action right now, DEO says. You’ll be contacted.
What what not clear as of Tuesday is if the quarterly reapplication law is what rendered seemingly eligible state benefit seekers “ineligible” in recent days. All of those in that situation who have reached out to 8 On Your Side applied in Q1 but had their claim processed in Q2.
The DEO has not responded to 8 On Your Side’s inquiry regarding that.
However, the DEO did provide a full chart breakdown outlining the process for those hoping to apply for assistance benefits.
To apply click here.