Out-of-work people have complained about hurdles preventing them from submitting their unemployment applications, but even some who have applied say they are still waiting for benefits.
It’s been roughly a month since Jessica Coccia has submitted her application for unemployment benefits.
As each day passes, she says her finances are suffering the consequences of Florida’s backlogged unemployment system.
“I have to pay for the rent, I have to pay for the food, and right now I am strapped, I am literally strapped, I had some money in savings, I am literally down to my last $130,” Coccia said.
She says each time she checks her benefit status the online portal shows her application is pending.
“It kept saying status pending, scheduled to be processed,” Coccia said.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has previously pointed to limited funding as an issue.
Recently, the DEO has added personnel, introduced paper applications and added a new mobile-friendly site for applicants.
But many are still reporting issues with the state’s system and a delay in receiving their benefits.
“There is only so much that can be done with the limited resources that they are getting. Having said that, if there is an access issue it should be addressed immediately. Everybody that earns their unemployment benefits should get it,” Michele Evermore with the National Employment Law Project said.
She says Florida, and other states, have federal funds to help them administer unemployment benefits.
“The good news is this new benefit, the pandemic unemployment assistance, all the funds associated with administering that benefit can be charged back to the federal government, so states should step up and have no hesitation in staffing up as fast as possible and getting people the personal attention they need,” Evermore said.
But as people still struggle to apply for benefits, some are now arguing that the unemployed should receive benefits from the time they lost their job.
Thursday, the City of Miami Commission approved an emergency resolution asking the state to retroactively compensate out-of-work people.
It’s something Governor Ron DeSantis has said is in discussion, but out of work people are still waiting for a final decision.