NBC 6 Responds

Floridians Still Waiting for Unemployment Benefits After State Received Funding

In the first quarter of the year, the fund earned nearly $25 million in interest. But on April 1st, $29 million dollars was deposited

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Records show the state of Florida received federal funding in the beginning of April to help residents get benefits needed after filing for unemployment due to COVID-19 - so why are some people still waiting?

NBC 6 Responds continues to hear from people who say they are waiting for their federal unemployment benefits as accounting documents show transactions from Florida’s unemployment trust fund in March, the state did not withdraw any amounts larger than $1.6 million.

In the first quarter of the year, the fund earned nearly $25 million in interest. But on April 1st, $29 million was deposited. 

That’s money that could be used to help pay out federal benefits, including the $600 weekly checks for those who qualify for federal unemployment assistance. It wasn’t until April 16th that a large withdrawal was made from the state’s trust fund

Federal transactions show it was on May 13th that $11 million was taken out for pandemic unemployment assistance. People like Beth Amato are still waiting for their benefits to come. 

“It feels really frustrating to spend time on hundreds of calls when you know that the person on the other line is properly not going to be able to help anyway,” she said. 

Amato is self-employed and owns her own art studio. She says she applied for unemployment benefits at the end of March but was later deemed ineligible. She then reapplied in April in hopes of qualifying for the pandemic unemployment assistance. But she says despite phone calls to the Department of Economic Opportunity and emails, her application is still pending. 

“Most self-employed people are very self-sufficient resilient people, we find ways to get things done. This is the most helpless feeling in the world,” she said. “I am actually worried that I am never going to see that money.” 

The latest numbers from the DEO show $1.2 million has been paid out in federal pandemic unemployment assistance while so far $25 million has been paid out in PUA benefits. 

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