The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) manages the states’ Reemployment Assistance benefits program, formerly known as unemployment compensation. This includes payment delays under many of the federally funded enhanced benefit programs which have been extended several times after enactment last year. See more on the relevant pandemic unemployment stimulus programs and extensions in the following sections.
Please also see the many comments in the forum at the end of the article where people have shared their stories, tips and struggles getting paid under one or more of these programs.
Covered in this Article:
Work Search Requirements Delaying Benefit Claim Payments
Over the last few months many claimants have reported that their UI benefits have been delayed or stopped entirely since the DEO reinstated work search requirements, which their antiquated systems have struggled to process (especially for PUA claims). This is despite eligible claimants applying for jobs and reporting this on their bi-weekly claims. The Benefit Year End Date (BYE), discussed in earlier updates below, does not seem to be the cause of the issue in most cases.
As a reminder, Work search requirements are now back in effect after Governor DeSantis had waived requirements for claimants through May 29, 2021. Claimants will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” Claimants must confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work, in order to claim their benefit weeks.
Coupled with ongoing fraudulent claims many claimants have been caught in a web of automated call systems and process bureaucracy as their claims go unpaid. Getting hold of a live agent has also been a challenge with many reporting hours of hold times and/or getting an untrained/new agent who is not able to help them (see some contact options).
Extra $300 Weekly Pandemic Unemployment Payment Expired. PUA and PEUC Extensions to Remain in Place
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has instructed the FL DEO to end the $300 supplementary weekly unemployment stimulus after the week ending June 26th, 2021. Florida joins several other states in ending this benefit in order to encourage unemployed residents to return to work.
However, unlike many of the states cancelling ALL enhanced unemployment benefits, Florida will continue participation in the PUA and PEUC programs until the planned end date of Sep 4th, 2021. The DEO also confirmed that the Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program will end effective June 26, 2021.
The end of the $300 weekly boost has seen several lawsuits filed trying to reinstate benefits and reverse Gov. DeSantis’ termination directive. None of succeeded so far, but lawyers are getting creative and will also seek to reinstate missed payment weeks.
Traditional state unemployment benefits and retroactive benefit payments however will continue to be processed and paid for eligible claimants.
Work Search Requirements to Keep Getting Benefits
Beginning the week of May 30th, claimants receiving state or federal Reemployment Assistance benefits are required to complete weekly work search requirements. The population of the county you reside in will determine the required number of weekly work searches.
Claimants will need to certify via the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” In so doing, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that you are able and available for work. If they don’t do this and will result in delays or missing payments.
Claimants living in counties with a population greater than 75,000 are required to complete a minimum 5 work searches per week. Claimants living in counties with a population less than 75,000 are required to complete a minimum 3 work searches per week.
25-week Unemployment Program Extensions Under Biden ARP Stimulus Package (Mar 15, 2021 to Sep 6, 2021)
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits will be extended until September 6th. This includes the following extensions:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The PUA program, designed for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors or those that generally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment, has been extended by another 29 weeks (actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks). This brings the total number of covered weeks in the program to 79. The minimum PUA payment is still 50% of a states average weekly benefit amount and limited to the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA).
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – The new stimulus bill funds another 25 weeks of weekly supplementary/extra unemployment at the current $300 level. Payments for the $300 weekly payment will continue until early September for a total of 25 weeks and eligible claimants – those getting at least $1 from state and federal unemployment programs – can get a maximum of $7,500 if they qualify for all weeks covered in this new extension. The other $100 supplementary payment for Mixed Earners (MEUC) was also extended by 25 weeks.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – The PEUC program, which extends coverage for those who have exhausted regular and extended state unemployment, has also been extended for another 29 weeks, bringing the total amount of PEUC coverage to 53 weeks. The actual duration of extension is 25 calendar weeks.
There also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits.
Payment Status of 25-week Extensions in Florida – Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC
The Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines for states to implement the latest unemployment extensions. The FL DEO has updated their program/systems to enable the 25-week of extensions funded under the ARP Program. It is expected that from Monday March 22nd, Floridians will begin receiving the additional weeks funded under the ARP plan. This will first apply to PEUC claimants and then will be made available to those getting benefits under the PUA program which has stricter rules (additional identity and documentation checks). The DEO will notify claimants who exhausted those benefits when their payments are ready to resume. Anyone currently collecting unemployment in any amount will also receive the $300 FPUC supplemental benefit. Claimants should continue to request their benefit payments as weeks become available in their CONNECT account if they remain unemployed.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under CAA COVID Relief Bill (Dec 27, 2020 to Mar 14, 2021)
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. FPUC will be available starting the week ending 1/2/21, so eligible claimants will receive the full 11 weeks of payments (a total of $3,300). To receive FPUC benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA.
Florida DEO – 2021 Payment Status Updates on PUA, PEUC and FPUC
PEUC update [Jan 25th] – PEUC claimants who have EXHAUSTED their benefits can now Log-in to CONNECT and take action on your account to claim and certify for benefits under the extended coverage period. They will also get the extra $300. Retroactive payments will be made for eligible weeks.
PUA update : Claimants who have exhausted their benefit payments and are waiting for the 11 week of enhanced benefit program extensions should not submit an additional application for Reemployment Assistance benefits at this time. DEO continues to progress through a staged implementation in CONNECT of the extensions. Keep checking your account for updates and look for emails from the DEO on actions that may need to be taken on next steps.
Update [Jan 18th]: The DEO has started updating their systems to make UI payments under the extended coverage period approved. However a few claimants, especially those who have exhausted balances prior to the start of the new coverage period have several questions. Here are some answers based on recent reporting.
If your claim status says suspended it is due to applying for Extended benefits. As a result their PUA or PEUC status will show as suspended. The suspended status will go back to active, and the claimant will continue on with claiming their weeks for PUA.
For those waiting for their $300 FPUC, and who don’t have an active claim, they will need to first need to reapply or get reactivated to receive benefits under the extended programs. The $300 can be requested after that process is complete (see this video for more). A new application will not be needed for the extension of PUA and PEUC; however additional documentation and information is likely going to be needed for the timely payment of benefits.
The DEO hasn’t started distributing the $300 payments yet (as of Jan 8th) but have confirmed that payments will be requested through the same Request Benefit Payment link that the underlying benefit program utilizes. If you request UI benefits for a given week you will the $300 automatically.
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guideliens:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed.
- Claimants will be retroactively caught up on payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional updates as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
Issues With Your Claim or You Have Not Been Paid?
- If a claimant has not received benefits or all of the benefits they believe they are entitled to, they should:
- Check that they have requested benefits;
- Check that the weeks they are requesting are eligible weeks; and
- Check that their account information in CONNECT is up-to-date and accurate.
- If a claimant needs additional assistance, they should call the Reemployment Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-833-FL-APPLY.
You can see some other contact options in this article.
Extra $300 Unemployment under Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program (August 1st, 2020 to Sep 5th, 2020)
Florida has completed paying out the $300 UI supplementary weekly payment under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. Payments had started from September 8th for claimants whose current weekly benefit amount (WBA), prior to taxes and other deductions was at least $100 prior to the week ending August 1, 2020. If you were already receiving unemployment benefits, you didn’t need to do anything additional to qualify for this payment.
November Update : Florida DEO confirmed it will only pay out only four weeks of additional jobless aid, rather than the six weeks provided under the program. FEMA which is overseeing the effort, however has said last week it would provide six weeks of funding, as it is to other states that are still processing payments. Because Florida doesn’t have enough workers who earn at least $100 in state unemployment aid (a requirement of LWA program) to qualify the FL DEO has said they won’t be applying for the remaining 2 weeks of LWA funding available.
The new Lost Wages program however does cut the federal benefit ($600 FPUC) in half since the state cannot afford to boost the benefit by the additional $100 state contribution requested by Trump.
Based on the many comments below, which have lots of questions and helpful suggestions (thanks to all those helping answer) here is some updated information on the enhanced benefits currently being paid in Florida. See the original details and details to file a claim in the updates below.
- The $600 FPUC payment is payable until the week ending July 25, 2020 to individuals who are collecting regular state Reemployment Assistance benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
- To modify the date of your claim – in order to get retroactive/back-pay for eligible weeks – must be made by calling the Reemployment Assistance Customer Service center at 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759 and choose option 5).
- Floridians who have already exhausted their benefits or have a Reemployment Assistance claim that expired after July 1, 2019, will also have to re-apply. Through PEUC, Floridians may be eligible for up to $275, in addition to the $600 through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), in weekly benefits. All claimants participating in PEUC will still be required to claim weeks on a biweekly basis (via Connect), certifying that they remain unemployed and are able and available for work during the weeks they are receiving PEUC.
- Make sure action DEO request around Quarter Change. If you are currently receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the DEO must confirm that you are ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance (regular state UI) benefits quarterly. This routine task, often referred to as the Quarter Change, will determine if you could now be eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits. If you are, you will receive a link to submit an application for state Reemployment Assistance benefits in your CONNECT account. Otherwise the DEO will send you a Quarter Change Questionnaire to confirm/continue eligibility for PUA benefits.
- Getting in touch with someone at the DEO is still a challenge. You can see contact options here, but if you cannot get through try contacting them via Social media (twitter or facebook). You can also complete the Reemployment Assistance contact form found here. See other options or suggestions in the comments below.
- How long will it take to get paid my benefits? Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, it took three to four weeks (assuming there were no issues with the claim) to process a claim. Given the surge in claimant volumes you can expect it to take at least 4 weeks to get your claim processed and payment in your bank account or debit card.
Are Reemployment Assistance benefits retroactive to the day I lost my job?
If you were not able to submit your application because you were prevented from doing so or because of system issues, and you would like to request to modify your claim filing effective date, you should call the Reemployment Assistance customer service center at 833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759). If eligible, your claim may be backdated to the date you first attempted to file your application. The effective date of PUA claims are made retroactive in the CONNECT system.
Thousands of Floridians have recently stopped getting $600 federal unemployment payments; state blames ‘technology concerns and errors with implementing CARES provisions. The DEO has blamed technology issues/concerns and said the department is correcting the issue. Affected workers should start receiving payments soon. Two main issues are causing delays. One is that some workers were mistakenly not issued federal payments for their “waiting week” – which was actually waived under the CARES act for the extra unemployment payments. The other issue is around backdated payments which were excluded from recent payment files for the federal payments.
CARES Act Unemployment Compensation Enhancements for Coronavirus / COVID-19 Relief (Feb 2nd, 2020 to Dec 26, 2020)
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expands Reemployment Assistance benefits. Benefits will be paid from the date they became eligible under the CARES Act. This now covers individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, certain non-profit employees and gig economy workers, as well as to individuals working part-time, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular state Reemployment Assistance benefits under state or federal law or PEUC. Those who apply for Reemployment Assistance whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 will follow the same application, review and payment process as all applicants for Reemployment Assistance in Florida. Programs included in the CARES Act are:
- [This program has now expired and no longer being paid] Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – provides an additional $600 per week to any individual eligible under Florida law for Reemployment Assistance. This benefit is available for weeks claimed March 29, 2020 – July 31, 2020 in addition to the funds owed under Florida law to individuals. Floridians who received their $600 check will receive their state benefits for Reemployment Assistance via direct deposit or prepaid debit card based on their selection made. [Paid from April 12th, retroactive to March 29th]
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – provides up to $275 in benefits per week to those not ordinarily eligible for Reemployment Assistance. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular Reemployment Assistance benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. Floridians will need to apply for PEUC benefits once the balance of their current claim is exhausted. Floridians who have already exhausted their benefits or have a Reemployment Assistance claim that expired after July 1, 2019, will also be able to apply.
Through PEUC, Floridians may be eligible for up to $275, in addition to the $600 through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), in weekly benefits. This brings the maximum unemployment benefit to $875 p/week for eligible recipients.
All claimants participating in PEUC will still be required to claim weeks on a biweekly basis, certifying that they remain unemployed and are able and available for work during the weeks they are receiving PEUC. The first week a claimant can be eligible for this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020.
- To comply with federal law, weeks beginning May 10, 2020, claimants for all Reemployment Assistance programs, including state Reemployment Assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks.” In doing so, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work should it be offered. If claimants, currently receiving Reemployment Assistance benefits, no longer wish to receive benefits, they do not need to claim their weeks, as payments will stop processing if weeks stop being claimed.
Governor Ron DeSantis has directed DEO to continue waiving the work search and work registration requirements for claimants. These requirements will continue to be waived through January 2, 2021.
Unemployed Floridians who have exhausted their state Reemployment benefits will be notified with the next steps for PEUC.
Filing a Claim and FAQs around Unemployment Benefits
One readers experience with the DEO (Florida) where the system is setup for bi-weekly verification but payments are sent weekly.
It took over a month before I started received any correspondence from DEO. I submitted an application on 4/14, but my employer also submitted a claim on 4/21. Since there were duplicate applications, my employer’s application was accepted over mine and the DEO system didn’t merge info. My employer didn’t have my personal email or direct deposit info, so all of my initial communications were sent from DEO via standard/snail mail.
On 5/19, the DEO packet of information I received included a Way2Go Debit card with 2 week payments (covering weeks ending 5/2 & 5/9), temp pin information to logon to CONNECT. In a separate envelope, I received the $600 check as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit. You won’t see anything in the CONNECT system about FPUC payments — they are mutually exclusive.
More details regarding bi-weekly verification:
After I finally got into the CONNECT system, the first thing I saw was a directive to complete verification for next payment (week 5/10 – 5/16). It took several attempts to verify. I got rather desperate, so I gave up using Chrome and switched to Firefox (thinking it was a browser issue). It may or may not have been the browser, but firefox went through on the first try. Anyway, the verification form has several pages with many questions regarding work activity that I thought was odd, but we are all in different circumstances.
Potential issues when completing bi-weekly verification:
After finally completing, I still received a message within the “Payment Request Status” section of the home page: Pending issue(s) have been identified on your Claim Payment will be delayed until the pending issue(s) is resolved. Once I clicked the link to identify the issue, I was presented with additional questions to verify that my unemployment is a result of COVID-19. Once completed again, the issue message was still there, but I presumed that the system just needed to cycle. I logged back in the next day, the system was updated to show my 5/22 payment was processed. As mentioned above, I received my unemployment direct deposited on 5/23. Oddly, the $600 FPUC payment was also received on 5/23 but in the mail in form of a check.
Filing a Claim
All claims should be filed online using CONNECT. Florida’s DEO also has a mobile-friendly online application for individuals filing a new Reemployment Assistance claim available at www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication
DEO has a mobile-friendly online application for individuals filing a new Reemployment Assistance claim available here. For a step by step guide on how to apply read more here. For the Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide which includes frequently asked questions, please click here.
If you have never filed in Florida before, use the “File a New Claim” link to start your application and create a profile. If you have filed previously, please log in using your Social Security number and PIN. If you no longer have your PIN, select the “Forgot PIN” button to regain access to your account. Before filing, make sure you have the following information available:
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license or State ID number
- Your employment for the last 18 months including for each employer:
- Name, address, and phone number
- First and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) during the listed dates
- The reason for separation
- FEIN (this is found on any W2 or 1099 tax forms you have received)
- If you don’t have the FEIN, you can use employer details off of a recent paystub
- Claims filed without correctly reporting employers may experience delays. It is important to list the correct employment information when filing your claim. If you fail to do so, your benefits may be delayed while the missing employment information is obtained
By Phone – Reemployment Assistance Hotline 1-833-FL-APPLY (or 1-833-352-7759)
Working Part Time and Getting Unemployment Benefits
In Florida you can get regular state UI while working part time under the Short-Time Compensation program. This program is a voluntary employer program designed to help employers maintain their staff by reducing the weekly working hours during temporary slowdowns instead of temporarily laying off employees. If your employer establishes a Short-Time Compensation Plan and you meet the qualifications to file an reemployment assistance claim in the state of Florida, you will receive a partial reemployment check to supplement your reduced paycheck.
– You must be a full-time employee, (not part-time or seasonal) with a standard number of hours worked each week (excluding overtime).
– You must meet all of the normal requirements to establish a Florida reemployment claim and you must provide the DEO with any necessary information or documentation.
– While on the Short-Time Compensation program you must work and/or receive paid leave for ALL of the hours that your employer has you scheduled to work in order to receive Short-Time Compensation Benefits for a week.
– Every two weeks you will be required to report your hours worked, plus any hours of paid leave from your Short-Time Compensation employer and if you have a part-time job, earnings from that part-time job.
– See further details here.