Florida Unemployment Escalation w/Rep. Eskamani (Updated July 23, 2022)

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, requesting 1099G forms 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.

Dear Floridians,

Thank you for trusting us to help you with your unemployment benefits. Over the last two years, our small but mighty legislative team has been inundated with questions about Florida’s broken unemployment system so we’ve compiled some of the most frequent issues and questions on Florida’s unemployment system and hope it provides some insight as we all 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

With Gratitude,

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani

Below is a review of recent DEO updates that might help w/some of your questions —

MULTIFACTOR AUTHENTICATION: We have received potential troubleshooting tips for those still struggling to change their multifactor authentication method or get through IDme in order to access CONNECT. DEO is recommending claimants with these issues access the online help center at bit.ly/deohelpcenter Select “Click Here for Reemployment Assistance Help Center” / “I am a Claimant” / “Account Login Assistance” / “I need to change my Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for my account.”

Then select if you need to change your MFA, email, or are having issues with IDme. (see image below!)

Also: See DEO’s multifactor authentication step-by-step guide here.

2021 TAX FREE?: We have received several questions about unemployment being tax-free for the year of 2021. At this time, the unemployment income federal tax exemption from the American Rescue Plan does not include unemployment income for 2021. This means the only way to still take advantage of the benefit is if you were paid any 2020 unemployment money late, and the payment came to you in 2021 instead of 2020. In this case, you will claim it on your 2021 tax return in 2022, and label it as unemployment income from 2020. Read more here.

CAN’T GET YOUR 1099G FORMS?: If you are struggling to access your 1099G form, please refer to this link for steps on accessing this document. Please note that the online Help Center has methods for requesting your 1099G form here, as seen below:

If you are still unable to receive your form, the quickest next step is to contact your State Representative to make the request on your behalf.

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), 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:

END OF PUA AND PEUC: Both the PUA and PEUC programs have come to an end. If you are missing benefits, we encourage you to visit DEO’s Help Center and take the following steps:

  • Click “I am a Claimant”
  • Then “Benefit Payment Assistance”
  • Then “I missed the opportunity to request benefit payments for some weeks and need those reissued in CONNECT”
  • And enter your information. You can also contact our office for additional assistance.

LOCKED ACCOUNT: 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.

Try this if you are having issues with a locked account:

  • Click here for the Reemployment Assistance Center
  • Click “I am a Claimant”
  • Then “Account Log In Assistance”
  • Then “I’m locked out of my CONNECT account”
  • (if you’ve already gone through ID.me) — -> “My CONNECT account says ‘Locked’ next to my claimant ID”
  • Next
  • If you have already successfully completed the ID.me verification process and your CONNECT account status remains “Locked,” “Under Review,” or “Pending,” select the ID.me link at the bottom of the page, and log-in to your ID.me account. After you have successfully logged in to ID.me, you will be redirected back to the Reemployment Assistance Help Center to complete a form providing the Department with more information.

HOW TO REPORT FRAUD: You can report identity theft and/or fraud at this link.

$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.

Note the exemption for some furloughed workers
Here’s a breakdown how many work searches you have to do based on the County you live in.
Another break down explaining your options.
More examples of how to do the Work Search

FEDERAL PROGRAMS:

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 and ALL federal unemployment programs ended on September 6th. States have been given the opportunity to use extra money from the American Rescue Plan to support unemployed residents but Florida never did that. Even after federal programs expire, you should still be able to seek back payment for the majority of weeks missed from your claim.

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.

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.

Florida Definitions of Ability, Availability, Discharge, and Voluntary Quit

DISQUALIFIED WEEKS: This is what DEO says about disqualified weeks in CONNECT —

This is found in DEO’s Resource Guide which you can see on FloridaJobs.org

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.

This is the process when you are applying for Regular UC. Applying for PUA should be a shorter timeline, but there is still some “pending” involved when you apply for PUA, too.

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 ended on September 6th.

Graphic of how PUA is calculated

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.

Here is what your CONNECT dashboard should look like when the PUA Portal becomes available. Note how you must have an ineligible status FIRST before the portal becomes available. If you have a CONNECT application dated on or after April 5th that is deemed ineligible, the PUA Portal should become available to you.
This is what your dashboard looks like once you become eligible for PUA. Notice the Current Program Type changed from “Regular UC” to “Pandemic — COVID 19”

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:

Note that there are phone apps you can download to fax documents versus having to use an actual fax machine.
Here is what your CONNECT dashboard looks like when applying for PEUC. Notice how Claim Status says “Exhausted” and Current Program Type says “Regular UC”
This is what your CONNECT dashboard looks like after you’ve applied for PEUC. Notice the Claim Status now says “Exhausted_Active,” the Monetary Status says “Eligible Redetermined” and Current Program Type is “Pandemic EUC”
  • 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.
First Screen Before You Answer the Renewal Questions
List of Questions to “Renew” Your PUA Clam for the New Quarter

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/582547100149566

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. 🚨

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