Florida Unemployment Escalation w/Rep. Eskamani (Updated October 17, 2021)
UI Claim Escalation with Rep. Anna Eskamani
Thank you for trusting the Office of Representative Anna V. Eskamani to assist with your unemployment claim.
Per guidance from the DEO, all claimants are now advised to submit issues & inquiries through the DEO Help Center available in English, Spanish, and Creole. This includes issues with locked accounts, payments on holds, and more.
➡️➡️➡️➡️ Here is the link to DEO’s new Help Center ⬅️⬅️⬅️⬅️
The DEO recommends all inquiries be submitted only once per issue to help expedite assistance on cases and the processing of payments. If you are experiencing a new issue since your last submission to the DEO Help Center, please submit a new entry to reenter the help queue. The DEO has told us that locked accounts via their Help Center should be solved within days but other inquiries could take upwards of three weeks or more to be resolved.
🚨🚨 If your case is urgent, please call our Legislative Office at 407–228–1451. We are open and constantly intaking calls and calling people back Monday through Friday, 9:00am — 5:00pm. If we are unable to pick up the phone please leave us a voicemail. 🚨🚨
We are continuing to work daily on unemployment cases and provide rolling updates on our unemployment blog here and on social media @AnnaForFlorida.
Thank you for trusting us to help you with your unemployment benefits. Our small but mighty legislative team has been inundated with questions about Florida’s broken unemployment system. Tens of thousands of people have emailed and called us, and it’s become near impossible to get back to everyone in a timely fashion.
With that said — we’ve compiled some of the most frequent issues and questions on Florida’s unemployment system and hope it provides some insight as you continue to hold DEO accountable, and work towards securing all of the money that is rightfully yours.
Please read through this blog post and if you still have questions, consider joining us for our Weekly Virtual Town Hall that we host every Friday at 4:00pm EST. Click here to learn more and submit your questions in advance.
Also if you need help looking for a new job, please contact your local CareerSource Florida workforce board. Click here to learn more and click here to watch our Virtual Event with CareerSource Central Florida.
Please also read through DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide which you can find here: http://www.floridajobs.org
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani of Florida State House District 47
Below is a review of recent DEO updates that might help w/some of your questions —
OVERPAYMENTS: People who received overpayments in unemployment benefits from the state during most of last year and this year will no longer have to worry about being sent to a collection agency. In a letter to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis directed DEO Secretary Dane Eagle to submit a request to the state’s Chief Financial Officer “to indefinitely defer all referrals to collections agencies for all non-fraudulent payments incurred during the pandemic” to help Floridians avoid further setbacks to their personal economic recoveries. Read more here.
Claimants who have received federal Reemployment Assistance benefits may be eligible to receive an overpayment waiver for federal overpayments established on their claims. Previously, DEO announced the availability of an overpayment waiver for the PUA and PEUC programs in the CONNECT system on April 21, 2021. The overpayment waiver request form for MEUC, FPUC, and LWA programs will soon be available to claimants in their CONNECT account.
DEO encourages claimants to check their Reemployment Assistance account frequently and take actions on their claim when prompted. In some instances, a claimant may be required to complete additional forms or, at the claimant’s option, file an appeal to ineligible notices to reverse overpayments created on their account.
To assist claimants in navigating overpayments on their accounts, DEO has made the following resources available:
- FloridaJobs.org/Overpayments — with easy-to-understand information and resources on overpayments
- Reemployment Assistance Overpayments Guide for applying for an overpayment waiver
- Informational Flyers with helpful information on overpayments and overpayment waivers
- FloridaJobs.org/RAHelpCenter — Reemployment Assistance Help Center self-service paths for notice of disqualification, overpayment, and appeals assistance
END OF PUA AND PEUC: We know that both the PUA and PEUC programs have come to an end, and many Floridians still had one or two weeks to claim but are now seeing their CONNECT account be marked as either “suspended” and/or “ineligible.” We have contacted DEO for an update on this and will work to make sure folks can still claim their final weeks.
MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION LOGIN: Claimants are now required to complete a multi-factor authentication process to access their Reemployment Assistance account. This process will ensure Reemployment Assistance claimants are legitimate and verified. Due to this update, each claimant must have an individual email address associated with their Reemployment Assistance account. Claimants may not share email addresses. DEO encourages claimants to create a new email account, which can be done for free or at no cost, if they do not have an email address or if they share an email address with another Reemployment Assistance claimant. In addition to multi-factor authentication, Reemployment Assistance claimants will be required to create an account and verify their identity with ID.me. See DEO’s step-by-step guide here.
LOCKED ACCOUNTS, PIN RESETS & IDENTITY VERIFICATION: The following is an update from DEO on the recent wave of Floridians facing locked accounts and pin resets.
- DEO, like many other states in the nation, has experienced recurring and malicious cyber threats to the Reemployment Assistance system by fraudulent actors.
- The DEO team has continued to ensure precautionary measures are in place to protect claimant information, including heightened security measures to protect access to claimant accounts.
- Due to these continued attacks, many claimants are being required to reset their CONNECT PIN in order to access their account.
DEO is implementing the following steps to help claimants regain access to their CONNECT accounts:
- DEO Verify is now available for claimants to verify their identity to access their account. Claimants will receive email notification from the Department to access this verification tool. Claimants are encouraged to check their spam and junk mailboxes for notifications from the Department.
- Florida residents who have a valid driver’s license or identification card may verify their personal information with DEO Verify to receive a new PIN and instructions to access their CONNECT account.
- Additionally, DEO has introduced multi-factor authentication measures in order for claimants to access CONNECT and to ensure their accounts remain secure.
- The PIN reset guide also includes directions to reset credentials to access and assist with other login issues.
- DEO recommends that claimants use the updated Reemployment Assistance Help Center resource to notify the Department of any issues relating to their CONNECT account. Concerns submitted through this resource are routed quickly to appropriate DEO team members to review and assist.
- We encourage all claimants to be vigilant in protecting personal information and to report any fraud online.
LOCKED ACCOUNT: We have seen a flood of problems with ID.me. Please see this link for guidance on how to use ID.me
- Accounts that are locked are locked due to identity verification issues.
- Any new claimant filing for Reemployment Assistance will need to verify their identity through ID.me. For more information about ID.me visit the claimant resource page, here.
- This link provides guidance on how to use ID.me
- If your account was unlocked and then re-locked, DEO is asking that you request assistance via their Help Center. The Help Center will redirect you to ID.me to request an account unlock. Click here to go to the Help Center.
IDENTITY VERIFICATION: If you’ve received an email from DEO asking you to verify your identity with ID.me and you’ve never taken this step before, DEO is asking that you do verify your identity. According to DEO: “We would encourage them to do it. It will be a requirement in the coming months.”
FRAUD ISSUES: Because DEO has been clamping down harder on fraud, it’s lead to a LOT of other problems for Floridians who are doing everything right. In particular, we are seeing an uptick in Account Locks, Return to Work Holds, Incarceration Holds, and Pending Status. If you have any of these issues, please please fill out DEO’s Help Center request form here.
$10,200 NON-TAXABLE FOR 2020: Benefits recipients who earn less than $150,000 each year are not required to include the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits as income for the 2020 tax year. We are still waiting for the IRS to offer guidance on what people who already filed their taxes should do to take advantage of this benefit.
WEBSITE CRASHES: The CONNECT website continues to crash due to high traffic. DEO has encouraged people to “be patient” and try to login at a different time if website keeps crashing/resetting you in loops. They are also working to improve server capacity with a longterm goal of moving CONNECT into a cloud-based system.
WORK SEARCH REQUIREMENT WAIVER: Florida’s Work Search Requirement is back in place. Click here for a FAQ focused on the Work Search Requirement Waiver.
Below are more screenshots to help understand the Work Search Requirement.
Here’s a series of Q&A we also asked DEO to help answer based on questions provided to us by unemployed Floridians. These are DEO’s responses to us>>
1. I understand that furloughed workers who will go back to work in 8 weeks are exempt — how do they PROVE that?
- If the claimant separates due to lack of work and does not exceed 8 consecutive weeks and has a fixed or approximate return to work date, no proof is needed.
- If the claimant separates due to employer initiated furlough that is temporary and the claimant remains job attached and expected to return to work for the employer, the employer should then provide documentation. If the individual is unable to provide verifiable information concerning the furlough, job attachment and return to work with the employer, they will not be exempt from the work search requirement.
- In response to the scenario regarding Disney workers who are still furloughed from April 2020: These individuals will have to provide written documentation from Disney verifying the furlough, that they have a job attachment and are expected to return to work with Disney to be exempt from the work search requirement.
2. If you are immunocompromised or going through some sort of treatment (like chemo-therapy) it basically says DEO will take that into consideration. How does someone report that barrier to doing the work search?
- As of May 30, 2021, all claimants are required to complete the work search requirement. A claimant must be physically and mentally capable of performing the duties of the occupation in which work is being sought. A claimant is not required to search for one type of work. The work search may include searching for in-person, remote, or hybrid occupations. If a claimant states that they are unable or unavailable for work during the request benefit payment process, CONNECT will issue fact finding located in the claimant’s inbox. The fact finding will request additional information from the claimant to determine the claimant’s eligibility. The information provided in the fact finding, as well as the claimant’s attachment to the labor market, will be considered when determining the claimant’s eligibility status. If an adverse determination is issued to the claimant and the claimant disagrees with the disqualification, they may request an appeal in their CONNECT account or by visiting FloridaJobs.org
3. Just to be clear: living with a disability and pregnancy are not reasons for exemptions?
- Correct. However there are other programs available for people living with a disability and expecting mothers. Vocational rehabilitation and blind services with DOE, http://www.fldoe.org/contact-us/services-to-floridians-with-disabiliti.stml , disability Insurance through Social Security https://www.ssa.gov/disability/ , and Temporary Cash Assistance through DCF https://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/access/temporary-cash-assistance.shtml .
4. For an unpaid internship, how would someone get DEO to approve that? Maybe they can just check in with Career Source every week instead?
- The claimant needs to be available for work. If the internship is full time during customary work hours, unless covered through an approved training program, the claimant would be considered unavailable for work.
- The claimant would need to meet the eligibility criteria for approved training. Each criterion below must be met and are as follows:
- Claimant must possess aptitude and skills that can be usefully supplemented by the training.
- The labor market demands for the claimant’s present skills must be minimal.
- The training must be a vocational, technical, internship, managerial, high school equivalency or academic program designed to prepare individuals for gainful employment.
- There must be a reasonable expectation that the claimant will become employed upon completion of the training.
- The training course or school must be approved by the Florida Department of Education (or other official governmental approving agency within the state where the training is being conducted.)
- The CareerSource Center may need to be consulted to determine whether the five criterion are met.
5. What do partially employed people do? They already have a job but it’s part time. (This question is really important and keeps coming up too)
- To determine a partially employed persons eligibility we would need to know what type of work their claim was based on, fulltime, part time and how many hours were in their customary work week.
6. Could you provide more clarity for self-employed people?
- Under regular Reemployment Assistance claim a self-employed person is not eligible for benefits when spending the major portion of the claimants customary workweek trying to become self-employed and no longer makes an effort to be an employee of another business. This is true whether or not the claimant has any income from self-employment, as it is not the purpose of reemployment assistance to subsidize unprofitable business ventures.
7. Is pitching their business to potential gigs count as doing the work search?
- Yes, for claimants receiving PUA, the attempt to gain clients should be counted as work search.
8. Is turning on the Uber/Lyft app count as searching for work?
- No, this scenario would not be considered searching for work nor would they be considered unemployed.
9. If people get the email from the help center saying their ticket has been closed and they should see results in 48 hours and then don’t does that mean they’re no longer on a queue for assistance? Should they submit another ticket or is there another path of action they should take?
- If someone working the RA-Case marks it as resolved, then yes, that particular issue should have been addressed and it is no longer in the workbasket queue.
- Realizing that there could be multiple issues, the Help Center is set up to work specific issues submitted. If outstanding issues still remain, additional RA-Cases may need to be submitted.
10. What should people do who setup a new multifactor login but the verification code never comes thru?
- The email will come from the email@example.com. Claimants are encouraged to check their spam and junk folders if the email isn’t in their inbox. If the claimant did not receive the code, they can click Send new code.
PUA, PEUC, MEUC, and FPUC are all federal unemployment programs. The only unemployment program that is Florida based is Regular UI, sometimes called Regular UC or Reemployment Assistance. The State of Florida ended FPUC payments (the extra $300 per week) on June 26th, but there is a pending lawsuit that could change this outcome. However, right now ALL federal unemployment programs are scheduled to end on September 6th. States have been given the opportunity to use extra money from the American Rescue Plan to support unemployed residents but it’s highly unlikely that Florida will do that. It does not matter if you have money leftover in your balance, if you are on a federal program it is scheduled to end on September 6th. However, even after federal programs expire, you should still be able to seek back payment for weeks missed from your claim.
- The most common uses of the 1099-G is to report unemployment compensation, as well as any state or local income tax refunds you received that year. Unemployed Floridians should be able to download their 10990-G form from their CONNECT accounts (make sure to TURN OFF your pop-up blockers when trying to download this form).
- INCORRECT 1099-G FORM? If claimants received a 1099-G Form and they believe is incorrect and/or they would like to amend the 1099-G Form they received, they should report this online at http://1099GRequest.myflorida.com
- 1099-G FAQ: https://floridajobs.org/.../claimant-tax.../1099-faqs.pdf...
PENDING STATUS/PENDING ADJUDICATION:
- Here is what DEO’s says on pending adjudication, which you can read in more detail at this link. Claimants can have a “pending” monetary status for many reasons. Those in pending status are undergoing a qualifying process in order to continue receiving benefits. DEO encourages those with a pending status to check on your CONNECT account every 48 hours.
DEO has a backlog a backdating claims. You need to call DEO to backdate your claim. The number is 833-FL-APPLY (1–833–352- 7759)
- The Department continues to work diligently to modify claim effective dates as quickly as possible. The Department has received thousands of requests from claimants to modify their filing effective date.
- The Department’s process of backdating Reemployment Assistance claims includes thorough research to ensure the claimant’s eligibility for backdating and to ensure the backdate does not negatively impact the claimant’s claim.
- Eligibility is based, in part, on the type of program the claimant is participating in, the reason why the claimant is requesting to have their claim effective date modified and the date the claimant applied for benefits.
- It is important to note that not all claimants who request backdating are eligible to be backdated. Paying eligible Floridians the benefits they are owed continues to be our number one priority.
- Claimants should check their emails and CONNECT inbox regularly to ensure they have not missed correspondence from the Department or the opportunity to request benefits for prior weeks.
ABILTY/AVAILABILITY ISSUES: Late last year, DEO sent a mass email to Floridians about ability and availability issues. This email include next steps to take to address these issues and according to DEO, you can visit AbleandAvailabletoWork.MyFlorida.com to complete the Ability and Availability to Work Form and provide any requested information. We also include term definitions below to help understand these eligibility issues better.
DISQUALIFIED WEEKS: This is what DEO says about disqualified weeks in CONNECT —
If you are still pending in PEGA (the more “mobile friendly” website) unfortunately that means you are waiting for DEO to transfer your information from PEGA and into CONNECT. Please make sure you did not miss an email from DEO alerting you of your CONNECT account. Pending could be due to Steps #2 and #3 below.
MONETARY REDETERMINATION: If you think your Weekly Benefit Amount is not correct, you may file a Request for Monetary Reconsideration with DEO. Click HERE to learn more.
GOING BACK TO WORK: We’ve received questions about what to do with your benefits if you go back to work. You may continue to request benefit weeks up to the week when you started working. When you request the week overlapping with your job, please indicate that you have worked and earned money during the week. If you expect to work full-time and/or earn over $275 in gross earnings during the week of overlap, you do not need to request benefits for that week and will NOT be eligible for benefits that week. If you are making less than $275 in one week you may still be eligible to receive benefits!
PUA, PEUC, and FPUC (CARES ACT PROGRAMS): Learn more about federal programs via this link: http://floridajobs.org/cares-act. Remember, all federal unemployment programs are scheduled to end on September 6th.
For those applying for Unemployment in Florida for the first time, the below graphics should help you reach the PUA Portal or to apply for PEUC if you are a Regular UC claimant. Remember, in order to reach the PUA Portal you must FIRST be deemed ineligible for Regular UC.
When you visit FloridaJobs.org/cares-act you will find more resources and information for FPUC, PUA, and PEUC. Below is a screenshot from DEO’s Applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance PDF that includes the following options to submit proof of employment in case the website is not letting you upload documents:
- QUARTER CHANGE/PUA & PEUC Renewal: Every new quarter requires Floridians to “renew” their PAU and PEUC application. This renewal will take shape as a series of questions that pop-up when you certify your weeks. See below for screenshot examples and CLICK HERE for guides on DEO’s website.
Note that the Quarter Change may lead to you having to reapply for unemployment benefits and start receiving Regular UC (versus PUA).
MISSING WAITING WEEK MONEY: If your waiting week took place after March 29th you should be paid for it! DEO mailed checks for the waiting week.
Please read DEO’s Resource Guide which you can find on FloridaJobs.org for additional guidance!
Find DEO’s Resource Guide here under the “Reemployment Assistance” banner.
If you have specific questions you would like Anna to answer, please tune in to our Friday Facebook Live at 4:00pm EST and submit your questions in advance here. This Facebook live will be recorded and shared afterwards and you do not have to have Facebook to watch.
Here’s our Facebook Live from last week: https://www.facebook.com/AnnaForFlorida/videos/1492654924419856
Curious what the employer side of unemployment benefits looks like? Check out Anna’s tweet-thread on this topic by clicking here.
Follow Rep. Eskamani on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram via the handle @AnnaForFlorida.
Still need help with your unemployment claim? Fill out DEO’s Help Center form here. 🚨 If your case is urgent, please call our Legislative Office at 407–228–1451. If we are unable to pick up the phone please leave us a voicemail. 🚨