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Florida judge denies request to restore $300 weekly federal benefits for unemployed

Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 18:25:42-04

A lawsuit filed last month to bring back the $300 weekly federal benefit for unemployed Floridians has been denied. The order came down Monday afternoon.

For months now, Gia Cuccaro says she has applied for jobs and sent in her resume and it hasn't been fruitful.

“How many callbacks would you say you’ve gotten so far?" asked reporter Heather Leigh.

“Three!" Cuccaro said.

She isn’t sure if her age is the problem or if she’s overqualified but, “it’s very discouraging sometimes you don’t wanna get out of bed because it just feels, it’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating it’s everything," she said.

Since March 2020, she’s collected unemployment benefits. In June, Governor Ron DeSantis decided to pull out of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. That program officially ended in July.

It left Cuccaro with $275 a week.

Cuccaro was one of 10 plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit.

“It was very scary, to be honest, I am a person who, I don’t mind being in the spotlight, but not for something like this," she said.

RELATED: Lawsuit filed against Florida hopes to restore Florida Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for unemployed

Judge Layne Smith said all of them made solid arguments and acknowledged the daily trade-offs they must make. However, Judge Smith said the decision to end those benefits early belongs to Gov. DeSantis.

The judge also wrote the lawsuit failed to prove the state violated the law by ending the program early.

“I was completely crushed, I think along with hundreds of thousands of other Floridians unemployed," Cuccaro said.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released a statement following the decision:

"The court ruling issued today affirms that the State of Florida’s successful Return to Work Initiative and subsequent withdrawing participation from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program was the right decision legally and has proven to increase employment and workforce participation.

Governor DeSantis has always been a champion for working Floridians and Florida’s business community. Because of Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the economic facts have proven that the state continues to outpace the rest of the nation in economic recovery. Florida’s unemployment rate is currently at 5.1% and continues to fall below the national average for 12 consecutive months, currently at 5.4%. Florida has experienced 15 consecutive months of job growth and has gained 964,400 jobs since April 2020."

The lawyers behind the lawsuit say they plan on appealing the decision immediately.

“I do believe the decision will be reversed in the appeals court, it’s just a matter of getting to the appeals court," said Cuccaro.