All About Unemployment Benefits In Florida During The Pandemic

Unemployment benefits, popularly known as Reemployment Assistance in Florida, are given to people who are unemployed through no fault of their own and meet state-defined eligibility requirements. However, ever since the Coronavirus pandemic spread across Florida, the state made several changes to the eligibility requirements. In this detailed article, we will guide you through every little detail pertaining to unemployment benefits in Florida. 

Unemployment Benefits In Florida During The Pandemic 

Millions of Americans lost their job as a direct result of the pandemic. To help the unemployed meet their needs during the crisis, President Donald Trump announced The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Act included several provisions like extended benefits, unemployment benefits for those who otherwise did not qualify for benefits, etc. 

After consulting and receiving guidelines from the U.S. Department Of Labor (DOL), the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) began implementing various unemployment benefits in Florida. 

The unemployment benefits programs implemented in the state under the CARES Act are as follows:

1. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA is aimed at providing benefits to unemployed gig workers, independent contractors, self-employed, and others who do not qualify for regular benefits. Under this program, you can receive benefits for up to 39 weeks. The program is expected to end in December 2020. 

2. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

Under this program, those who qualified for Reemployment Assistance and PUA received $600 additional weekly unemployment benefits. This program expired on July 25 and was replaced by $300 extra weekly benefits. 

3. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

PEUC program provides unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks. To qualify for this program, you must exhaust the benefits received through the Reemployment Assistance program. The program is expected to end in December 2020. 

Note – You are required to renew your PUA or PEUC applications every new quarter. To know more about it visit the DEO website.

Who Qualifies For Unemployment Benefits In Florida During The Pandemic?

Generally, to qualify for regular Florida unemployment benefits, you should meet work search requirements apart from being unemployed through no fault of your own. However, due to the pandemic, the DEO has waived the work search and online work registration requirements until December 2020. 

Though these eligibility criteria have been waived, you may still see the requirement pop-up when certifying your weeks. In such a situation, enter “COVID19” in the field to get past the work search requirement.

Extended Unemployment Benefits In Florida

Recently the DEO announced that if the unemployment rate exceeds 5% in the third quarter, it will roll out benefits for extended weeks. The extended benefit weeks would come into effect in January 2021. The Department further added that it calculates the state’s number of weeks for Reemployment Assistance based on the recent third calendar year quarter’s average unemployment rate. 

DEO is said to add six weeks of extended weeks in December 2020. Generally, Florida provides 12 weeks of unemployment benefits. With extended benefits, the duration is capped at a total of 23 weeks. 

Who Qualifies For Extended Unemployment Benefits In Florida?

To qualify for the extended unemployment benefits, you must exhaust your payment received through Reemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. If you have already exhausted your FEUC benefits, you can apply for the PUA program since extended benefits have not rolled out yet. 

Note that the Department is setting up systems to roll out the extended benefits as early as possible. Once Extended Benefits, the Department will outreach the qualified to ensure they are receiving benefits through the program.

Latest Updates On Unemployment Benefits In The State

The Department of Economic Opportunity has clarified various aspects of the unemployment benefits in the state. Here, let’s have a look at a few among them. 

1. Over Payment

If you have been overpaid, make sure you do not spend the extra money. This is because: 

  • The Department may ask you to return it 
  • The Department may deduct the amount from your future benefits to make up for the difference

Note that the DEO will contact you if it suspects overpayment.

2. Going Back To Work

If you have begun taking a job, you may continue to request benefits for the weeks you were unemployed. If there is a week that overlaps with the week that you took up a job, you must indicate that you have worked and earned wages during that week. 

If you have taken up a full-time job or earned over $275 in gross wages during the overlapping week, then you will not qualify for benefits that week. However, if you have earned less than $275, you may qualify for benefits.

3. Backdating Unemployment Claims 

The Department has announced backdating unemployment claims. To backdate your regular claim, call the authorities at 833-FL-APPLY (1–833–352- 7759). If you are a PUA beneficiary, you need not take any additional steps. You will be automatically backdated, depending on your total claim that shows when you were unemployed. 

Note that the Department is said to conduct a fact-finding to cross-check if the date you requested is accurate when backdating claims. It is important to know that backdating regular claims may result in an overpayment which the Department will recover by deducting the amount from your PEUC. 

Keep checking your mail and CONNECT inbox to ensure you do not miss updates from DEO.

4. Account Is Blocked

Your account may be blocked or put on hold if there are any identity verification issues. You can reach out to the authorities at the legislative office with your Claimant ID and request them to unlock your account. 

Closing Thoughts 

The Department of Economic Opportunity is going the extra mile to help unemployed Floridians meet their end needs during the crisis. Do not worry if you have not yet received benefits. The Department may take some time due to enormous applications, but it will certainly pay you, provided you qualify for it. If you have already exhausted benefits, then patiently wait for the extended benefits while searching for a job.  


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