Press Releases

Rep. Frankel, Florida Members Send Letter to Gov. DeSantis Urging Action to Fix Unemployment Insurance Program, Application Process

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West Palm Beach, FL, March 26, 2020 | comments

West Palm Beach, FL – Today, 11 members of Florida’s congressional delegation joined Representative Lois Frankel (FL-21) in sending a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis urging immediate action to address flaws in Florida’s inadequate unemployment benefits system, including the faulty, unaccommodating online unemployment insurance application process.

The letter states in part, “We recognize that you submitted a request for a major disaster declaration to the President in order to grant Floridians access to disaster unemployment assistance. However, we again request that you immediately improve Florida’s unemployment insurance and ease the burdensome application requirements that are preventing Floridians from accessing critical benefits at a moment of crisis. […] We continue to hear from constituents that the website where all applications must be completed continues to malfunction making it extremely difficult for individuals to even file a claim for unemployment benefits.”

“Fortunately, Florida’s onerous and weak unemployment insurance program will be supplemented by new federal benefits with an additional $600 a week for four months,” said Rep. Frankel. “But Florida’s application process for unemployment insurance is a nightmare and will make receiving the benefits difficult if not impossible.”

COVID-19 has already forced Florida businesses to lay off a staggering 40,438 workers – 31,246 temporarily and 9,192 permanently. In the last week alone, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity received 5,325 applications for reemployment assistance, and over 130,000 calls. These numbers will only increase as the virus continues to spread and businesses close.

Yesterday, the Senate passed a massive stimulus package that will add an additional $600 per week of federal unemployment insurance support for individuals. The House is expected to vote on this legislation this week, and then it will go to the President to be signed into law. Immediate action is required by Governor DeSantis to ensure all Floridians get both the federal and state-level support they need.

Furthermore, the members urged Governor DeSantis to:

  1. Waive burdensome job search requirements and communicate such waivers to the public;
  2. Waive the one week waiting period;
  3. Increase the maximum amount for payments and duration of unemployment benefits;
  4. Update the formula to determine eligibility and consider a worker’s most recent quarter of earnings to calculate the benefit;
  5. Investigate and mitigate challenges with the website; and
  6. Provide additional ways for individuals to apply for unemployment insurance.

The letter was signed by Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Val B. Demings (FL-10), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Al Lawson, Jr. (FL-5), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Darren Soto (FL-9), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24). For the full letter, click here

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