TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of Floridians have waited in limbo only to be told weeks after applying for unemployment that they’re not eligible for state money.
“People are in tears, up all night, not sleeping. I’m even not sleeping more out of frustration and a lack of control on how we can resolve this, what can we do,” said Kathleen Barksdale, who applied at the end of March. “There’s nothing at this point.”
Barksdale is beyond confused as are so many others about the denial. She says she’s worked full time for Hilton Corporate for the last three years and was furloughed because of COVID-19.
“There’s no reasoning. It doesn’t tell us why we were denied,” she said.
Another applicant sent us a screenshot where the CONNECT site tells them they must view their determination before additional options are made available, but just below that, it says the determination is not available.
“Do we know if this is a system problem, it is a system glitch and it spit out all of these as Ineligible?” asked Barksdale.
We reached out to the DEO about the speculated “glitch”. They wouldn’t confirm or deny only refer people to the DEO handbook for ineligibility. Barksdale is unsure if she should appeal or wait.
“Do we go into the new system and reapply, there’s no guidance,” she said.
According to state law, unemployed people usually reapply for benefits when they enter a new quarter.
In a statement sent by the DEO today, they said, “Those who are self-employed, contract employees, gig workers, or others who applied for the state’s Reemployment Assistance benefits on or before April 4, 2020, should apply at www.FloridaJobs.org and select “File a Claim” to request PUA. Unemployed Floridians who have not yet applied for any benefit should apply at www.FloridaJobs.org and will be considered for all existing programs, including PUA.”
Richard Whitman says he’s already started a second application, but can’t seem to get it completed.
“There should’ve been a whole separate site for this where we didn’t have to deal with CONNECT because why am I dealing with CONNECT, I’m not going to collect unemployment through the state of Florida,” he said.
The state says for self-employed and gig workers, once you’ve been denied, a PUA application should pop into your inbox.
As for folks looking to apply for state benefits, the department said, “Individuals who applied for the state’s Reemployment Assistance benefits on or after April 5,2020, and were deemed ineligible for state reemployment assistance benefits will receive additional application information from the Department. They can also visit www.floridajobs.org/cares-act for more information regarding these programs. Please advise these Floridians to monitor their accounts and email for additional information from the Department.”