With everything going on in the world, I have hesitated to write this post. After all, why point out another area where things just aren’t ideal? Here’s the thing. I think this needs to be brought to light after the press conference with Governor Desantis yesterday. Many of the statements made about the system did not reflect our experience or the experiences of many people that we know. Here’s an honest look at what Florida unemployment is really like.
What Florida Unemployment is Really Like
*** Important note –
I think it’s very important to point out that I am still working. My husband was furloughed from his position on March 27th. Our experience doesn’t reflect that of families where there isn’t a working person in the house. We know for a fact we are blessed that I can still work and maintain the majority of our bills.
However, someone has to say something honest about this situation and I am taking that on.
3/29 – Husband worked final shift and furloughed
3/30 – Filed full application for unemployment
This application took us roughly 9 hours to complete because the site would not load for us or would kick us out in the middle of the application process. We entered all information requested correctly. Then we waited.
3/30 – 4/26 – We waited
During this time frame, we checked daily to see if there was any movement on our case. We called with no luck in hopes of getting answers. (The phone lines were not working.) Most days the website didn’t load. If it did, there was no added information.
During this time we also heard stories of friends who were reaching dire situations financially. These were people who were hard-working people who had no other income, were denied jobs, and chose between food and mortgage.
4/27 – Marked Ineligible – No Reason Given
On 4/27 when we checked our information, we found that we were marked ineligible for benefits. There was no additional information. No notes were added to the file. No notifications were in the inbox, emailed, or in the side options, you can click.
4/27 – Emailed Legislators
My husband wrote a long and detailed email to legislators and explaining what our struggles were and asking for any assistance with resolving the issue. It was respectful and simply asked what direction we could go to resolve our claim and potentially receive our benefits.
*At this point, we also confirmed with his job that they were paying into unemployment and we were in fact eligible.
4/28 – Email Response Received
The email response pictured above was received on 4/28 from Steven Thompson. CC’d in the response was the following email addresses:
“Plasencia, Rene” Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov
“Aggarwal, Nitin” Nitin.Aggarwal@myfloridahouse.gov
4/28 – Spent 4 hours on the phone
I spent 4 hours on the phone trying to get answers. After 4 hours of waiting, I was hung up on. I left that phone call with zero answers. When I tried calling back, the phones said call volume was too high and suggested I check the website or call back later.
4/28 DEO Sent an Email
This email had zero actual resolutions as all of the directions included were not relevant to our situation and didn’t help.
4/28 – Applied Again on Mobile Site
We decided to make an attempt at keeping things moving and applied on the mobile site. On the mobile application, we were marked pending.
4/30 – We Sent a Response Email
On 4/30 we sent another email to the representative.
We asked specific questions about our situation in hopes of getting a response. As of May 5th, there has been no response to that email.
5/5 – I reached an employee at the DEO
However, the conversation was not productive. The computer system was down so the woman I spoke with gave me no answers whatsoever. I asked her if I could leave our case number and phone number to reach back out to us when the system came back up. I was told that he is too busy to be calling people back.
She did tell me my application on the mobile site was useless and would take a long time to even be seen. So that left us more frustrated.
5/5 – Found a New Spot on the Connect Site with more information
We found a new location that said I submitted zero income information. That is false as we submitted all of that when we applied. When I try to fix that, I receive the error pictured above.
As of the writing of this post, this is where we are. We still have no answers, have not seen a cent, are still paying all bills plus added bills like insurance premiums, and are feeling extremely frustrated.
5/6/2020 – UPDATE
We received a phone call today telling us we were approved and claiming we would start being paid soon.
BUT!!! We still have so many friends who weren’t as fortunate. They are in a bad situation. Please keep advocating for them. I didn’t write this post for us. I wrote it for the overall situation.
5/6/2020 – Update
I received a phone call from Rene Plasencia confirming that we were taken care of and that benefits were approved as needed.
Let’s talk about the bigger picture!
I didn’t write this to highlight our situation. Instead, I want people to see that the Florida unemployment system is not helping its residents. For households with only one job or with two employees who were furloughed, there has been no income for over a month. People are starting to receive payment deadlines for bills like rent/mortgage, food, utilities, and insurance.
When asking around I have found that this is a widespread problem that is not limited to us. Here are a few situations we’ve discussed with fellow applicants.
- Can’t afford insulin – Because this person is still insured through their workplace but not receiving a paycheck, he is unable to afford a basic need such as insulin.
- Can’t get work because overqualified. – Many are suggesting that people filing unemployment are lazy. However, these same people are applying for work and being told they are overqualified.
- Full-time employees are having hours cut because of the increase in seasonal/temp/part-time workers. – I spoke with an essential employee who is begging that people stop trying to work there as she’s getting her hours cut considerably. In order to give hours to these people, full-time workers are losing hours and finding they are in a financially difficult situation as well.
- Can’t afford to pay Mortgage/Rent – With no income, no sign of income coming, and no work available, many are struggling to afford to pay their rent/mortgage.
How can you help?
Here are a few ways you can help Florida’s Unemployed in this difficult time.
- Share this information with legislators, media, or anyone you think can help. We need a collective of voices rising up to hold the state accountable.
- If you can help financially, ask for an Amazon wishlist or meet a need. – Until the state of Florida can step up, please help out if you are financially able. Ask a friend for an Amazon wishlist or tell them you are helping and provide for a need.