Lawmakers Call for Expansion of Florida's Unemployment Benefits

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After being offline for several days, the state’s online unemployment portal is again allowing people to log in.

The state's Department of Economic Opportunity reports because of the work done over the weekend, it has processed nearly 80% of the unique claims that were submitted and nearly 47% of claimants have been paid. 

 “I think having it down so you can process the money, at the end of the day people want to see the checks cut so that was what was done,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

But Monday some people are not getting the status update they hoped for.

Brian Hendry reached out to NBC 6 Responds after finding out the unemployment claim he filed weeks ago was deemed ineligible.

“I was concerned immediately upon finding it out,” Hendry said.

He says he reached out to his co-workers at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant. He says half the staff says they have been deemed ineligible, while others were approved.

The Florida DEO site shows that some are ineligible for unemployment when they should qualify for benefits.

“It seems more like a glitch on the unemployment site being they were doing the updates all weekend, the site is still kicking you off again today,” Hendry said.

Out-of-work people have reported multiple  issues and growing frustration with the online portal since March.

“We’ve had huge problems with this thing, we have had people working 24/7 surging the workforce to be able to do it,” DeSantis said.

The governor has signed executive orders waiving the work search and bi-weekly check-in requirements to make it easier to apply.

A group of lawmakers says more needs to be done.

“Those that get through and actually receive benefits, it's about $251, which means the majority of Floridians are already close to that cap, it’s so stingy,” State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, along with U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Representative Kathy Castor are asking for the state Reemployment Assistance to be increased and expanded.

Currently, the cap on the state benefits is $275 per week which is among the lowest amounts paid in the country.

The benefits can last for up to 12 weeks. Most states allow benefits to last for up to 26 weeks.

Under the CARES Act, states are permitted to extend unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks.

Wasserman Schultz says by expanding state benefits it will give out of work people another needed relief during an uncertain time.

“Knowing these benefits will increase and be extended will lift one layer of anxiety off of every jobless worker and their family,” she said.

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