State announces new mobile-friendly online application to file for unemployment benefits

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MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has announced a new, mobile-friendly online application for people to file for unemployment benefits.

The application, which was released Wednesday, comes after thousands of Floridians ran into trouble with the department’s old system, causing some to head to a Miami-Dade County library to pick up a paper copy.

“The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is committed to ensuring Floridians are able to receive the benefits owed to them during this global pandemic,” Executive Director Ken Lawson said in a release. “The team is working around the clock to make the process for applying for Reemployment Assistance as easy as possible for Floridians.”

Officials advise those seeking unemployment benefits have the following documents and information:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s License or State ID number
  • Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer
  • Employer ID – FEIN number (this is found on your W2 or 1099 tax form), if available
  • Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number
  • First and last day of work
  • Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) covering the last 18 months
  • Reason for separation
  • If you are one of the following, make sure you have this additional information available:
  • Not a U.S. Citizen: Alien Registration Number or other work authorization form
  • Military employee: Copy of your DD-214 Member 4; If you do not have the Member 4, then a copy of your Member 2-7 may be used.
  • Federal employee: SF-8 or SF-50
  • Union member: Union name, hall number and phone number

Officials said those wishing to submit a paper application can still do so, but it may take longer to process than completing an online application.

Since the pandemic began, 16.8 million people across the U.S. have applied for unemployment benefits, and a third of them have applied in the last week alone. Unemployment numbers are projected to reach 15%, leaving a record 20 million out of work.

The most recent numbers of unemployment claims in Florida have reached nearly 170,000, bringing the total number of claims to around 500,000 since the start of the pandemic.

“I think that we’re in a better position today than we were a week ago,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “We need to continue to improve the system. We are taking this extremely seriously. We’re putting as much as we can there, and if there are things that aren’t going good, I told them, ‘You need to be nimble, and we need to make sure how you get it done.'”

Nick Pena also echoed some of the difficulties others have faced, and he is among the thousands of people wondering when they will receive money from the state.

“I’ve never applied for unemployment in my life, so I thought this would be an easy process,” Pena said. “It’s almost like it’s a system that’s designed to fail. This is not about me going out to buy a new car or a luxury. This is about putting food on the table and paying for the roof over my head. That’s what this money is for.”

“It’s kind of mind boggling that you have a job, you do everything right, and there’s no help coming in at all from the government,” Kirk Morton said. “Is the check ever coming? How am I going to pay my bills?”

Sharlyne Ashckar said she can’t start the process to file for benefits because of a possible case of identity theft.

“We pay our taxes. We do our job. We expect them to do their job, as well,” she said. “Somebody took my personal identity and put a claim. I don’t know when because they can’t get me any information about the claim, so now, I’m just sitting here like a sitting duck. I have to pay rent, my car, my insurance, buy groceries. It’s scary because I don’t want to be put out on the street.”

Jennifer Palo was able to apply for unemployment during the first week of March. She said her application went through, and yet, more than a month later, she has not received money from the state.

“I feel really bad for people who think that they’re going to get their money in a timely matter,” Palo said. “All of this is very stressful at a time when we don’t really need that extra stress. I hope that they’ve hired enough people to untangle this mess.”

Remember, if you have access to a printer, you can print out the application at home by clicking here.

FedEx stores across Florida are also proving free unemployment application printing and mailing services.

Click here to get redirected to the department’s new online Reemployment Assistance application.

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