NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- While hundreds of thousands of people are waiting on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to process their unemployment claims, we’re now hearing from people heading back to work, who are trying to cancel their claims, but the unemployment benefits just keep coming in.
This seems to be happening more often now that jobs are opening back up, and as the story goes, when they try to call or email the DEO, their calls and questions are left unanswered.
“The day that I was laid-off I came home, got on the website, filed for unemployment, I believe it was the next day my job called me back to offer me another position,” said Sarah Morgan, an Orlando woman who filed for unemployment in mid-March.
Both Sarah Morgan and her coworker were laid off from their job at a hotel for only a few days. Her coworker has tried calling the DEO to see about canceling their unemployment claims, but they’re met with dead ends.
“They don’t give an option for callbacks, they don’t respond to emails,” said Morgan.
And unemployment money they no longer need.
“I got into my bank account yesterday and saw two of the $600 payments, and the 5 weeks, roughly, of unemployment in my bank account,” said Morgan.
They’re not the only ones in this position.
Brandon Ragsdale, a New Port Richey man, was unemployed for the entire month of April. He got paid unemployment during that time, but now he’s back at work, and the unemployment benefits keep rolling in.
“I spoke with a gentleman and he pretty much told me there’s no way to cancel, I told him I spoke with my bank, there was no way to stop the payment from being deposited into my account,” said Ragsdale.
But it’s money he doesn’t feel comfortable getting.
“He said to probably prepare to keep receiving them, and to basically sit on that money and save it up,” said Ragsdale.
Money Brandon and Sarah both know could be going to one of the thousands of others who are still unemployed.
“To me it feels like dirty money, feels like I’m not supposed to have it, so I have full intentions of giving it back,” said Morgan.
But Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes said in an interview Thursday that he’s not sure if giving it back will be an option.
“I don’t think there’s gonna be any prosecution for anyone who gets a check, and frankly, how do you even get in the system to turn it off? I don’t know the answer to that,” said Brandes.
The DEO did announce on Friday that the unemployed will now have to start going in and actually claiming their benefits every two weeks. Brandes believes that will help the situation in the future.
For now, he recommends holding onto that money, just to play it safe.