State pays out more than $2B in unemployment claims but frustration continues for Floridians left in the dark

Posted at 10:58 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 23:23:08-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- While the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) said more than $2 billion has been paid in unemployment claims, some Floridians say there are still those who haven't seen any money and haven't gotten their questions answered.

Lorraine Grella-Rossi said her pay stopped at the end of April thanks to COVID-19.

"I moved to Florida 13 years ago and sometimes, right now, I feel I’m sorry I did because I don’t feel the state is actually helping the people who actually need it," she said.

Right now, she's waiting to see whether she is deemed eligible for unemployment. She said her unemployment claim filed at the end of April sits pending, the system noting her identity isn't able to be authenticated.

"I still think it has to do with my last name but I don’t know because I don’t work for DEO," she said.

So while her bills pile up, Grella-Rossi said she can't get a clear explanation on the phone. She's not alone in her frustrations.

"It’s lagging as we saw. I hope everyone saw today was really about the people to amplify their voices. My caucus took over 1,000 applicant names," said State Senator Audrey Gibson, the Florida Senate Democratic leader.

On Monday, Democratic lawmakers had a box delivered to the governor's office, they said contained information for more than 1,000 applicants waiting since March.

"He should see to it that every single one of those applicants are correctly entered in the system there’s no road block for them and their checks should be issued tomorrow," said Gibson.

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The FLDEO reports there are more than 1.3 million unique claimants. Nearly 897,000 are paid.

The director of communications for the governor stated, "We eagerly continue to help those who qualify, some will not qualify. Tomorrow we will have more information to share on this issue."

Governor Ron DeSantis was questioned by a reporter on unemployment during a news conference Monday.

"What we’re gonna do tomorrow is I’m gonna take all the data, because we’re gonna have more good news from what was done yesterday," he said. "We’re gonna put that out and we’re gonna show not only who’s been paid and we’re going to go over common pitfalls for people that have not been paid. But I think it’s your responsibility if you’re representing someone in March who hasn't been paid to tell your viewers whether that someone is a valid applicant or not."