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Thousands of Floridians stuck in 'pending purgatory' of state's unemployment system

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 07, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Lost in a system that has failed Floridians, that's according to lawmakers around the state.

The Department of Economic Opportunity says things have picked up and they’ve paid thousands of people money. However, many say they are stuck and waiting to be verified and described it as the “pending purgatory” inside the state's unemployment website, CONNECT.

“That’s unacceptable if you’ve been waiting six weeks for a check,” said Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes, who represents parts of Pinellas County in District 24.

“Now, we are at a point where you have a mom with two kids who are afraid of being evicted or about to lose their car and have no food in the refrigerator,” said Brandes.

A man who applied on March 19 sent ABC Action News screenshots of his status in CONNECT. It shows, more than month later, he was found eligible for benefits but then reverted back to pending when the system noted he didn’t enter in certain wages.

He says he did and documents he provided show his wages entered in. He fears the system lost his information.

“How many others are in the same situation? There’s not enough transparency there,” said Democratic State Senator Janet Cruz, who represents parts of Hillsborough County in District 18.

Cruz asked the DEO today for an explanation — representatives with the DEO responded and confirmed they received the inquiry and would take a look.

Cruz says another issue she’s discovered, “If you filed before March 29 -- which many people did -- they lose a week. But if you filed after March 29, then you don’t lose a week and I just don’t think that’s fair.”

That’s why she penned a letter to the DEO, which hits the postal service Thursday and demands an answer from Secretary Satter and the Governor.

Brandes says the state needs a system that works.

“There will be a brand new system come next year, you don’t have this level of problems without us spending the entire rest of this year working on to create a brand new system for the state of Florida,” he said. “One that is functional, one that is user-friendly, one that provide you constant updates.”

Cruz says the state must first get back the $77 million in tax payer dollars spent on the current system.

“We have to go after Deloitte, who created this website on top of a platform that they knew wouldn’t work,” she said. “We need a refund. That’s what we need — to sue Deloitte and work on this after we get people paid.”

Find out who your local lawmakers are and connect with them for help with your claim.