On Thursday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) offered on update on the efforts made to enhance its unemployment assistance program due to the negative economic impacts presented by COVID-19.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Thursday which suspends the biweekly “actively seeking work” reporting requirement by claimants.
From March 15 – April 15, 141,451 claims have been through the initial monetary determination process. This means that a decision has been made on whether the claimant is monetarily eligible to receive assistance, in addition to what the amount of their weekly benefits will be.
During that time, DEO has made 121,102 payments to Floridians in assistance benefits totaling $47,544,993. This includes 33,623 individual Floridians who applied for benefits after March 15.
This week, 23,801 checks for $600 have been mailed to Floridians for their benefits available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These checks were provided by paper to ensure they were distributed as quickly as possible. Floridians who received their $600 check will receive their state benefits via direct deposit or prepaid debit card based on their preference.
DEO is seeing historic increases in Floridians filing for assistance. Initial claims, which are new individuals requesting assistance, filed for assistance are provided below:
For the week ending March 21, Florida received 74,313 applications. For the week ending March 28, Florida received 228,484 applications. For the week ending April 4, Florida received 169,885 applications. For the week ending April 11, estimates are that Florida received 175,306 applications.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible for regular assistance benefits. This includes individuals who are self-employed or independent contractors. DEO will provide more information on PUA and how to apply in the coming week.
DEO will be conducting nightly maintenance to the CONNECT system to help with processing claims. CONNECT will be unavailable from 8 p.m. – 8 a.m. daily. Individuals who need to certify their weeks should sign-on to CONNECT between 8 a.m. and 7:59 p.m. during their scheduled reporting time to ensure their claims are processed on time. Importantly, this will not affect individuals that are filing a new claim. Individuals can file a new claim 24 hour a day, seven days per week.
For more information about benefits, including how to apply and frequently asked questions, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19.