With the threat of COVID-19 forcing cities to encourage quarantining and the closure of many businesses, potentially thousands of Florida residents will be suddenly faced with unemployment. Many are seeking the assistance of unemployment compensation to get them through some difficult times. However, with a large number of people suddenly unemployed, it has been a burden on Florida’s woefully unequipped unemployment system.
The Department of Economic Opportunity, which runs the unemployment system, has seen five times as many calls since before the pandemic. The website has had many problems, and hundreds of unemployed individuals have been unable to get through. While the state has taken some steps to improve the problems by hiring more call takers and making improvements to the website, it remains to be seen whether the situation has gotten any easier. The state has also decided to waive the work search requirement for those individuals who receive benefits. This makes sense, given that there are virtually no jobs to search for.
Applying for Unemployment
In Florida, unemployment benefits are known as “reemployment assistance.” In order to apply for unemployment, you must file a claim online. Because they are experiencing higher than normal volumes, it may take some time to get through. Before filing, you should make sure you have the following information available:
- Your social security number
- Driver’s license or State ID number
- Your employment for the last 18 months, including
- Name, address, and phone number
- First and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) during the listed dates
- The reason for separation
- FEIN (found on your W-2 or 1099)
- If you can’t find the FEIN, you can use employer details off a recent pay stub
Once you have completed your application, you must register for work at Employ Florida. Be sure to request your benefits online biweekly. Review your home page in CONNECT to ensure there are no outstanding messages that need to be addressed.
According to the United States Department of Labor, in addition to being laid off completely, anyone who meets one of the following qualifications will be eligible for unemployment:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured as the result of someone’s negligence, you should consult with an experienced and trusted attorney. Gregg Goldfarb has been helping the victims of negligence for over 20 years. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.