TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s unemployment claim website is off the grid through 8 a.m. Monday, in an effort to try and process more payments according to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
While the intentions are good, it’s another hiccup in a system that continues to fail Floridians in need.
Those anxiously checking the status of their claims online every day won’t be able to while the site is offline.
It’s a state of uncertainty Kasey Muise tells 8 On Your Side that mail-in applicants are in every day.
“They’re just not giving us any answers,” Muise said Friday.
As a bartender, Muise was part of the first group of Floridians to lose jobs to the coronavirus, and will likely be one of the last groups to get back to work.
She first tried to file for unemployment in mid-March, but could never get the CONNECT site to work.
Muise ultimately had to mail her application in, which got there April 13th according to the USPS tracking she paid extra for.
But in the last two weeks it’s been radio silence from the unemployment office, which no acknowledgement her claim was received and is on track to be processed.
“Are they getting lost? I’m sure they’ve got hundreds of thousands of them, what is the next step with that?” she said.
So Muise reached out to 8 On Your Side asking how to check the status of a mail-in claim.
“Do you know, or can you find out if there is any way for us to check online somewhere to see if our paper application has even begun to be processed?” she wrote in an email. “How do we know that our paper application has at the very least been opened, and recorded? Is there any database that we can use to see if we’re on it?”
We took her questions directly to the Department of Economic Opportunity. But unfortunately, the answer is…not really.
A spokesperson for DEO told us Muise, and any other mail-in applicant, would be notified by their offince if or when an application is processed.
It wasn’t the answer Muise was hoping to hear.
Of the 1.8 million unemployment claims filed so far, at least 170,000 of those were by mail.
In a tweet Friday, DEO claimed to have processed a 100,000 paper applications. It’s unclear if those are in addition to that 170,000 figure listed on the DEO dashboard, which only shows numbers through Thursday.
All Muise can do now is sit, wait, and hope hers is processed soon…because she won’t be getting back to work anytime soon.
We asked if she thought the system failed her.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Absolutely.”
In some cases, people have received letters asking for information that needs to be submitted through CONNECT or else their claim will be denied. That prompted concern upon learning CONNECT would be down for days.
However, DEO tells 8 On Your Side those letters can be ignored without risking the viability of your claim.
Contact reporter Victoria Price with your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.