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Confusion continues over Florida’s unemployment dashboard

Posted at 5:53 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 18:02:24-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- ABC Action News continues to work to find out why many Floridians tell us they are confused by the state's Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) dashboard.

DEO claims it has paid more than 478,000 people that were deemed eligible for unemployment benefits so far.

Many Floridians, however, tell ABC Action News reporter Heather Leigh they are still left in the dark on their unemployment checks and want answers.

Joseph Burciaga says his checking account continues to dwindle away as he waits to find out if he's even eligible for the unemployment checks he had applied for back in March.

Burciaga says his persistence hasn't paid off. He has checked CONNECT often but is unsure if he'll even get the unemployment benefits.

"It took me three days, about 6 to 8 hours each day, because it just kept kicking me off but I knew I had to stay on it," he said, about when he first applied

Burciaga is currently stuck in the verification process, along with 312,000 other people.

Calling DEO hasn't helped him at all, he said.

"It takes two minutes per call and I called 308 times and I have yet to speak to anybody who can do anything but change a PIN," Burciaga said.

DEO says it has processed about 735,000 claims and of those, 478,000 have been found eligible.

DEO added it has paid all of those people but several emails and calls from viewers say that's not true. they tell us, after they were found eligible, they still haven't received what they were told, which for many includes retroactive pay.

“They might not have even gotten their payment yet because it takes time for the state to mail out the prepaid cards or direct deposits to hit people's accounts," said Labor and Employment Expert Ryan Barack.

But out of the more than 1 million applications that have been confirmed by the state, there are thousands more being sorted through.

“The state is not being upfront with how it is they are processing these claims. They’re not being clear to people about what’s going on with your status and that is leading to confusion,” said Barack.

Barack had been saying this for weeks now, on how dysfunctional the state's CONNECT system had been. The dysfunction prompted Governor Ron DeSantis to direct investigators to see why so much money was spent years ago on the system and why the "programming issues from day one" were never fixed.

“The problem with an investigation is it can provide political leaders with a dodge so they don’t have to answer your actual question," Barack said. "Because what they will say is, 'Well I will refer this to a special investigation so it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on.'"