JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some Floridians are finally seeing $300 unemployment checks after weeks of delay.
The money, which was part of the federal government’s $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, was stalled when the president did not sign the bill before unemployment benefits expired.
Since March 21, 2020, Florida’s unemployment system has been inundated with first-time claims. Those numbers reached an all-time high. In the most recent weeks, claims have leveled out. But there are still over a million people relying on those benefits, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s system still does not provide many answers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, News4Jax has received emails like this one weekly:
“I have not received my 300 extra week I’m confused as to whether FLORIDA is even paying these benefits yet due to the lack of information coming from the governor’s office.”
For many Floridians, unemployment benefits ran out on Dec. 26, and because President Donald Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill the day after that, “things went haywire,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani.
Eskamani’s office has been contacted by thousands of unemployed Floridians from across the state looking for answers.
”Now what folks are waiting for, who are straight PUA, those folks are waiting for DEO to reactivate their account through the extension of the 11 weeks,” Eskamani said.
Now, weeks after the COVID-19 relief bill was signed, the DEO announced this week 1 million people should be able to start applying for that $300.
“Unfortunately, a couple hundred thousand folks are still waiting,” Eskamani said. “If you see the extended benefits portal in your account, you should use it. You should walk through the process because the extended benefits portal will get you the right posture to start receiving unemployment. If you are straight PUA and you see an option to reapply, I would wait for this weekend because we are hopeful that DEO will see some results over the weekend and processing claims.”
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced additional help for people on unemployment or who have been impacted financially by COVID-19. DeSantis anticipates Florida to receive more than $850 million in federal money for emergency rental assistance.
While additional details on the application process for that program were not immediately released, the governor said that he expects to get that money out in the coming weeks.