JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re more than a year-and-a-half into the COVID-19 pandemic and there are still problems being reported with Florida’s unemployment system.
There’s no doubt the system is working better than it was at the beginning of the pandemic. And while more than 2.4 million people have received benefits since March 2020, there is still not a week that goes by that News4Jax doesn’t receive an email or call from someone looking for help.
Johnetta Cromer said her son has been locked out of his unemployment account for months.
“Stressful. Unbearable. And it puts you in a financial bind,” Cromer said.
She’s just one of the dozen people who have asked News4Jax for help in the last month alone.
“Every auto-recording that you call is the same recording of the woman first and then the gentleman and then it hangs up on you,” Cromer said.
The Department of Economic Opportunity is aware that people are having trouble accessing their accounts.
In the agency’s weekly newsletter, the DEO says:
“The Department understands the challenges many Floridians face with accessing the Reemployment Assistance System due to bad actors attempting to gain access to personal information and accounts.”
In August, the DEO experienced a breach in the system, forcing many like Cromer to verify their identity through the third-party site, create a new PIN and use the system’s new multi-factor authentication login.
Seemingly simple enough.
“The video called him, had him hold up his ID while they took a picture of him holding his ID, and that’s the last we heard of anything,” Cromer said.
And that’s what News4Jax has been hearing from many people.
No matter how many times the person tries to claim their benefits, they’re met with another obstacle that’s keeping them from receiving the money they say they qualify for.
So, News4Jax asked DEO what it recommends for these people. It said it depends on the issue, and it offered a different website for each situation, all with different instructions.
Regardless of the problem, there are still many issues to be worked out. And in the end, it’s the person applying that is having to navigate this, at times, confusing process.