TAMPA, Fla. — More than 404,000 Floridians have now begun to receive state unemployment benefits, yet thousands more are still playing the waiting game.
Since Mid-March, Rayden Shanks has attempted to navigate the state's unemployment system, Connect.
“It’s a simple process, this shouldn’t be this hard,” she said.
She was furloughed from her job at Longhorn Steakhouse in Seminole because of COVID-19.
It has taken weeks for people to find out if they are eligible for benefits, and some are still waiting.
Shanks wonders if she’s experienced false hope after being told she qualified but her claim status is inactive.
“When I called the automated line, I put my information and it’s like you need to reopen your case,” she said. “OK. How?"
She says she got in touch with someone at the DEO that said they couldn't help.
"He’s like I see your money, it’s sitting here, I see your cares act payment, I see your payment but it says you’re inactive," she said.
We reached out to the Department of Economic Opportunity Wednesday morning for guidance on her situation and and still don’t have an answer.
“I mean I have no confidence right now in the state of Florida,” she said.
There’s also no sure answers for people who were denied, but say they qualify for state money. Out of the 674,000 claims processed, 226,000 people have been denied.
“It makes you feel disposable. I mean that’s the only way I can think to describe it. At this point I feel like they just don’t care,” said Shanks.
You have the right to appeal an ineligible determination within 20 days of the denial date.
It’s similar to a courtroom hearing, where both you and your employer will have the right to ask questions, and provide closing arguments before the state makes a second determination.
You can file an appeal through CONNECT but many people have told us they can’t get through without getting kicked off. It appears you can fill out a paper appeals form, scan it into your computer and e-mail it to the state at RA.AppealsClerks@deo.myflorida.com.
Or you can simply send a paper form into:
- Office of Appeals P.O. Box 5250, Tallahassee, FL 32399-5250 Fax: 850-617-6504