TALLAHASSEE, Fla — As Floridian’s inch towards the end of 2020, the fear that unemployment benefits are also closing out is settling in.
“Everyone has bills, they don’t just stop,” said Amy Cheek, a customer service representative laid off in late March.
Cheek says she’s been job searching ever since while also dealing with a multitude of issues when it comes to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
“I feel like they want you to give up because it’s very tiresome,” she said.
Cheek showed ABC Action News documents where the DEO attempted to make her send back money they say was overpaid to her. She appealed and months later, it was reversed but she says the $412 has yet to show back up in her account.
On top of that, she says her weekly benefit amount is the bare minimum and wasn’t calculated correctly.
“I’m only making the $125 minimum now, I’m supposed to be, per their calculations, it’s the highest wage divided by $26,” she said.
The DEO told ABC Action News earlier this month, “In an effort to get eligible Floridian’s paid as quickly as possible, the department opted to begin paying the minimum amount.”
The DEO also says it plans on eventually correcting that on a case by case basis.
"Claimants who believe they are eligible for more than $125, should request a monetary reconsideration. The guide on How to Request a Monetary Reconsideration can be found here: http://www.floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/to-apply-for-monetary-reconsideration.pdf [floridajobs.org]. Any claimant who has already submitted a request for monetary reconsideration does not need to do anything further. Due to the high volume of requests, this is taking longer than normal. However, even if a claimant has gone back to work, if their request for monetary reconsideration is approved they will still receive the benefits they are owed."
But, Cheek says the DEO is now suddenly withholding money from her claim again and she can’t get anyone to tell her why.
“It’s a scary time not knowing when you’re getting your benefits, if they’re gonna stop, how much you’re going to get, things like that,” she said.
For weeks now, the DEO has eluded to an Extended Benefits program coming in December and claimants say the link to apply is now popping up in CONNECT.
The DEO says folks who exhausted their PEUC between June 7 and November 7 will be paid up to 6 weeks retroactively and folks who are currently getting PUA benefits CAN apply for EB after those are exhausted on December 26.
Here is the FULL statement from DEO:
"Claimants who are currently receiving PUA will be able to apply for Extended Benefits at a later date. Claimants should be on the lookout for communication from the Department about Extended Benefits.
These are responses from the Department. We would also encourage you to share with your viewers that individuals who are eligible for Extended Benefits will be notified by the Department and can access step-by-step instructions on how to apply here [floridajobs.org] or view an instructional video here [youtube.com]. You can click here [floridajobs.org] to view Frequently Asked Questions regarding Extended Benefits."