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Unemployment issues answered as people wait on federal benefits extended by Congress

UPDATE from DEO.jpg
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 18:44:34-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — Michelle Chason and others are worried 2021 is shaping up to be a repeat of 2020 when it comes to getting unemployment benefits.

“If we have to go through, and I don’t think we do, a whole re-applying thing, I mean that’s gonna be a nightmare for everybody,” Chason said.

Last May, she reached out to ABC Action News for help moving her claim along. She, like so many others, were stuck navigating CONNECT for weeks before being able to apply for federal funds under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

“We are very grateful for all of you guys. I don’t know what we would’ve done without you last year,” Chason said.

Chason exhausted her federal benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program last month and was kicked back to an ineligible status for regular unemployment.

She is one of many left to wonder what that meant and what the next steps are to get BACK on PUA to claim the additional 11 weeks of federal benefits extended by congress last month.

“There’s so much conflicting information out there,” she said.

Those building concerns prompted a phone call between Reporter Heather Leigh and the DEO Wednesday morning to clear things up.

  • PUA Claimants who have exhausted their benefits and are waiting on the CARES act extension DO NOT need to reapply for Reemployment Assistance benefits right now.
  • DEO says not everyone is affected by the Quarter Change and not everyone will get the quarter change questionnaire.
  • DO NOT WAIT to claim your weeks — in doing so, you could actually slow DOWN the process of getting the federal extension.
  • And if you exhausted your PUA benefits and your claim now shows you as ineligible for regular unemployment do not do ANYTHING. The DEO says you will be automatically put BACK on PUA once the extension is ready.
  • The DEO says the extension of the CARES act and PUA money is retroactive to the day it was signed into law.

The DEO says:

On December 27, 2020, the federal COVID-19 relief package was signed into law extending and providing additional federal unemployment benefits to eligible claimants. For claimants receiving Reemployment Assistance, additional weeks for unemployment may be available for eligible Floridians beginning after the week of December 26, 2020. Eligible claimants will receive the money they are owed as quickly as possible.

Chason says a link to apply for regular benefits has popped up but some people say when they click the link to reapply for benefits they can’t because they have a “current claim”.

DEO officials say after ABC Action News made them aware of that issue, they were able to fix it for at least 3,000 claimants and are asking anyone else who experience that problem to let them know.

DEO did say people receiving PUA don’t need to reapply for PUA, but may need to provide extra documentation.

Meanwhile, some people say their connect account is reflecting the new federal weekly benefit as the DEO continues to ask people for patience as they implement the program.