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New DEO leader answers questions after temporarily shutting down unemployment site

Posted at 5:16 PM, Apr 24, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of people have waited for months, and there is still no relief for unemployment in Florida. The applications have stacked up but virtually no checks have gone out.

According to the state's dashboard, about 153,000 people have been paid out of the 218,000 claims that have been processed.

I don’t know when the next dollar is coming in from anywhere. I haven’t even gotten my stimulus check yet so I have nothing,” said Diaz.

Laurie Diaz lives in Riverview. She says it’s been radio silence from the state since she applied for benefits through Florida’s mobile-friendly site, Pega, in April. She first attempted to apply through CONNECT on March 29.

“It’s really a feeling of isolation and just feeling terribly alone,” she said.

She also feels forgotten like so many other Floridians.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the most important thing I’ve ever done,” said Jonathan Satter, the new department head in charge of processing thousands of backlogged claims.

He says the department is working around the clock to process the applications and get checks out.

CONNECT is shut down until Monday, April 27, 2020, so they can process as many claims as possible. He told ABC Action News Friday, they will also work through the paper and Pega claims over the weekend.

RECOMMENDED: Florida's CONNECT system is offline until Monday, April 27

The state has also approved retro pay from March 9 or whatever day you were left after that day.

So far, 1.8 million applications have come in since Mid-March, and of the applications processed, 59,000 have been denied.

Satter says you may still qualify for federal money, and do not need to appeal your claim to get those benefits.

And even though Satter hopes to have a huge jump in processed claims by next week, Diaz wonders why the system was flawed to begin with.

“I am prior military and if you did something wrong you’re held accountable so where is the accountability in the state?” asked Diaz.

When we asked Satter if the department plans to look into the system’s failures and the millions of dollars spent to overhaul it five years ago:

“My mandate from the governor was to pay Floridians as quickly as possible,” he said. “I’ve been here a week, I’m not thinking about the past, I’m only thinking about what we can do for the future to get Floridians paid as quickly as possible.”

Satter says folks can expect huge call volumes Monday and Tuesday but for those wait times to ultimately go down as they start sending out checks.