TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida lawmaker is pushing to have the one-week waiting period for people applying for unemployment benefits waived in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Florida's unemployment system requires a one-week waiting period before benefits are paid out. The original idea behind it is that some applicants may be able to find a job during that week. However, that's all changed with the spread of the new coronavirus.
Democratic State Senator Janet Cruz, who represents parts of Hillsborough County in District 18, wrote in a letter to the Department of Economic Opportunity that she wants the waiting week to be waived for anyone who filed before March 29.
"I hope you will understand the frustration of those who also struggled to apply but were successful in applying before that date," Cruz wrote in the letter to Secretary Jonathan Satter.
She is also asking for clarification about retroactive benefits.
The letter comes amid confusion about people's exact application dates as they struggled with the troubled unemployment system.
"Floridians are desperate for information," Cruz wrote in the closing of her letter to the DEO. "They need to inform creditors of when they will be able to pay their bills."
Meanwhile, the state now says you must log in to the Connect system every two weeks and claim your benefits. The state says that's a requirement under federal law; a requirement Governor Ron Desantis has waived for the past three weeks.
However, the Department of Economic Opportunity website states people are still okay to leave off the work search requirement when applying for unemployment benefits.