Florida unemployment: System improvements increasing claims capacity

Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Filing for unemployment in Florida should be easier – but still not flawless – as of Monday.

The state made major improvements to the system over the weekend, adding servers and manpower. Gov. Ron DeSantis says 72 new servers were installed to process unemployment claims. More than 200 state employees from other agencies were also trained to answer calls.

“The system can handle up to 120,000 simultaneous connections by individuals filing claims. Recently, we’ve been in the 40 to 60,000 connection range before these servers. That was causing huge stress,” DeSantis said.

But getting a check could still take some time.

More than 60,000 people applied Sunday night when the system went back up after the improvements were made. About 20,000 applications were received Monday morning.

“From March 15 to April 5, we received 520,000 cases for reemployment assistance,” Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Ken Lawson said.

The DEO can only process 80,000 claims a week. That means there is already a four or five-week backlog to getting a check.

“Every day as we increase capacity, we’re seeing greater improvement in the system in our ability to process and pay people,” said Lawson.

At this point, it’s unclear whether you can receive benefits from the time you lost a job and couldn’t file because of problems in the system.

“If they have been frustrated from applying, and then finally now, the system’s better, then I think that should be something that is taken into consideration. I mean, it’s not like they were just sitting on their hands,” said DeSantis.

The governor also said he’s talking to FedEx about paper applications. You may soon be able to go to a FedEx office, fill out the form, and have them deliver it.

State officials on Monday also talked about the Connect computer system, which has had problems since it went live in 2013. But there was a new revelation that “shocked and surprised” Lawson: The backup system was never plugged in. It is now.

Ten more servers are on order and 500 Department of Revenue employees will start verifying applications to try and speed the claims process.

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