Woman Searching for Answers After Unemployed Weeks Are ‘Disqualified'

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A South Florida woman is searching for answers after her unemployed weeks were disqualified in the CONNECT system. 

Like many South Floridians, Erika Suarez is getting used to a new reality. 

"I never expected to be two months without nothing," Suarez said. 

According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, South Florida tops the list when it comes to the number of people applying for benefits across the state. 

Miami-Dade County and Broward County account for roughly 420,000 of the 1.6 million initial claimants who have applied for benefits. 

For Suarez, despite applying in April, she is still looking for help. 

"Like I say my savings is going like water and I don't see any relief anytime soon," Suarez said. 

Suarez says she received unemployment benefits for a stint in 2019. 

In 2020, she worked for two different employers prior to the pandemic. She says she started working at her most recent employer in March, and weeks later she was laid off. 

After applying for benefits, hoping to at least qualify for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, she says the CONNECT system allowed her to claim weeks. 

But then she says those weeks were “disqualified.”

"Last week I have the surprise that all the weeks that I claim they were listed as disqualified," Suarez said. 

She says each time she calls the DEO for answers, she gets disconnected. 

"I was able to speak with a representative and she asked me to be on hold, a brief hold what they call it, and all of a sudden I was disconnected and I haven't been able to get connected again," Suarez said. 

According to the DEO’s website, "Disqualified weeks will not release payment because of an adjudicator’s determination. Verify the related disqualification by checking the 'Determination, Pending Issues and Decision Summary' section of CONNECT."

It’s something that Suarez says she has done, but says there’s no new information available. 

"It is very frustrating and for the first time in my life I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel," Suarez said.  

According to the DEO’s website, you can appeal the determination if you disagree with the “Reasoning and Findings” of the determination.

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