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Man says issue with Florida's CONNECT website caused problems when he attempted to claim benefits

Posted at 4:35 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 18:23:06-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The state says it is processing unemployment claims which will keep people from logging in, and bogging down the system. When you attempt to log in it says the site will be available Monday, May 17, which is actually Sunday's date.

It’s another error added to the list people have told ABC Action News about for weeks now.

Michael Tibbs says he applied for unemployment on April 3 when he was furloughed from his job at Courtesy Nissan in Tampa. Tibbs has now entered into his 7th week of no benefits, no job and a nearly empty savings account.

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“It’s hard to lay in bed at night and think what can you get rid of so you can survive. The system I feel failed me and it’s just been one of the worst times of my life,” he said.

The lack of money and confidence in the states unemployment system has taken a toll on his mental health — especially after he heard Governor DeSantis say, “9 times out of 10 applications are incomplete...” and that’s why people may not have been paid yet.

He also went on to say that if people, who filled out their applications in March or early April had done them correctly, 99.9% of them have been paid.

“It’s kind of like kicking a dog when it’s down because I’ve spent so much time, so much effort into doing this,” Tibbs said. “You know last Friday, I felt like giving up. I felt like just saying I’m done with this.”

Tibbs says it took weeks for the state to approve his application to receive benefits and the process was not easy at all.

“It was very tedious because I would get kicked off or logged out and have to go back in,” he said.

Once approved, he says he faced several hurdles. He had to put in work search requirements even though the governor waived that step until the end of May.

He says, when he went to claim his benefits this week, he was told by the system to claim the last week he worked which was March 29-April 4.

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“One of the questions was did you work this week or make money this week and I put yes I did, I’m not trying to claim benefits for that week. I want to claim benefits for the week so I was furloughed,” he said.

And even after being honest, the system kicked him off. When he logged back in he received an error message — the only remedy was to get a FLDEO representative on the phone to fix it.

He says he spent hours trying to find a work and that one finally worked. He says he changed his furlough date to March 29 which allowed him to move on to claim other weeks.

We reached out to the DEO about this issue and shared screenshots Tibbs provided. Officials say they can not access his account today but say the agency will look into this issue on Monday.