This past weekend more than 200,000 Floridians were deemed ineligible for unemployment. We asked DEO why this was happening, and they sent me the following statement:
Statement from Department of Economic Opportunity:
This weekend, we made significant progress in processing claims so that individuals across the state could get paid their Reemployment Assistance benefits. Last week, the department paid almost $412 million to Floridians, which is an increase of almost 600% over the week.
During this process, many individuals were deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits. There are numerous reasons someone could be deemed not eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, including wage base period issues, lack of wage history, among others. You can review the Reemployment Assistance Handbook here, which has examples of why individuals could be deemed ineligible. Each person deemed not eligible for state Reemployment Assistance receives a notification regarding their eligibility.
Many of the individuals that were deemed ineligible this weekend could be eligible for federal benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The agency is working diligently to get more detailed information to individuals who may be eligible for federal benefits. This week, individuals will be able to log-in and complete the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program after they were deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits.
Obviously this statement is not helpful when it comes to Floridians being able to access their unemployment benefits, so we’ve crafted this blog post to help —
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF CONNECT TELLS ME I AM “INELIGIBLE?”
#1: Find out why you are ineligible
The first thing you want to do is try to figure out why you’re ineligible. Below are eligibility requirements from DEO’s 4/23 Resource Guide linked here. According to DEO, there are numerous reasons someone could be deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits, including wage base period issues, lack of wage history, multiple claims in one year, separation circumstances, incomplete applications, among others. Each person deemed ineligible for state Reemployment Assistance SHOULD receive a notification regarding their eligibility.
A common reason why people find themselves ineligible is because they don’t meet Florida’s base period requirement or wages earned requirement, which you can learn more about here. Ideally DEO explains to you why you’re ineligible, because this would provide you with a clearer picture for next steps. DEO typically does send a letter in the mail explaining your ineligibility too.
Note: Some Floridians who applied in March 2020 were deemed ineligible because of their work history and not meeting Florida’s Base Period. Applying in March 2020 means your base period started in October 2018, and so your four quarters of wages would be: Oct/Nov/Dec 2018, Jan/Feb/Mar 2019, Apr/May/Jun 2019, and July/Aug/September 2019. If you were not working in Oct/Nov/Dec 2018 in Florida and/or your wages were not high enough during that time, you might want to reapply for April 2020 because then your base period would start January 2019 versus October 2018.
If you are self-employed please go to #2 in this blog post, if you are a W2 employee and believe DEO wrongly deemed you as ineligible, go to #3 in the blog post. If you you were correctly deemed ineligible, please go to #2 in this blog post and consider applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
#2: I’m ineligible because I’m self-employed or for another Florida-based reason.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a federally funded program for folks who are otherwise ineligible in their state to receive benefits. In order to apply for PUA you must first be deemed ineligible by your state. You can read more about PUA at this link and below from DEO’s Resource Guide:
PUA is beginning to show up as an option for Floridians in their CONNECT Account. These are likely Floridians who filed for Unemployment Insurance after April 5th.
See below for an example on the left side of this screenshot.
Below is a screenshot of the PUA application’s front page and a list of documents you may need to complete the PUA application.
**We have also been notified that in order to apply for PUA you must have a claim made effective on April 5th or later. Please see below screenshot for additional details.***
We have asked DEO how backpay would be calculated since people are being asked to start a new claim after April 5th. We’ll share those details once we have them.
According to DEO: Individuals who applied for the state’s Reemployment Assistance benefits on or after April 5, 2020, and were deemed ineligible for state reemployment assistance benefits will receive additional application information from the Department.
Everyone can also visit www.floridajobs.org/cares-act for more information regarding these programs. Those looking to apply for PUA should monitor their accounts and email for additional information from DEO.
#3: I feel that based on what I know, DEO wrongfully marked me as ineligible.
If your account was marked as ineligible and you feel like that was wrong, you should consider filing an appeal. Click here for DEO’s Claimant Guide, on Page 91 you can follow the steps to file an appeal.
Not sure what else to do? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to help. Just know that we have been flooded with emails and may need 24 hours to get back to you.