TAMPA, Fla. — As the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity vows to work around the clock to get unemployment applications processed, many of you have e-mailed and called ABC Action News to demand more than just promises.
The process of getting onto the website, applying and claiming benefits seems never ending and Bob Pragano feels like he’s hit a wall.
“We don’t want to talk, we want the action, we need the action,” he said.
He says recently he called the FDEO and was put in a queue. Two hours later, he got a call back from a department official who told him because the system is down, he can’t help.
“At that point in time I think I just looked at my phone and I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “You’re calling me back and you can’t help me?”
When Pragano says he asked about getting back into his place in the queue, the official told him he has to call back and get a new place in line, which would start the process all over.
“I think we’re getting a lot of lip service unfortunately and we’re not getting the action,” he said.
Last week, Florida had more than 181,000 new applications and thousands backlogged from weeks prior, yet only a small percentage of those have been processed.
Pragano applied almost six weeks ago and is sick of waiting.
“That’s when I reached out to you,” he said, about e-mailing ABC Action News, “Because I don’t know what else to do. I was so aggravated and so frustrated.”
Those feelings are shared by so many around the state as they wonder when they’ll see unemployment checks start to roll in and if they’ll be credited with the benefits they would have claimed if the system wasn’t faulty.
“As far as I’m concerned, right now we owe Floridians a lot of money based on the weeks they were unemployed,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat in district 47. “Especially being so, when the CARES act was signed to law which was over two weeks ago.”
Republicans and democrats say they’d like to hold a special session to deal with unemployment issues as soon as possible.