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Thousands of Florida workers turned down for benefits, state flooded with appeals

8,200 appeals filed as of May 2
Posted at 3:26 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:53:30-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There are more potential delays and backlogs for unemployed workers seeking help in Florida.

More than 300,000 have been turned down for benefits, and now it appears the state's appeals process may be overwhelmed.

Robert Ferrarie of Boca Raton was turned down for unemployment benefits, and his appeal has been met with no response from the state.

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However, while his appeal seems to be going nowhere, he still worked the system to his favor.

“I went back and reapplied, and this time, with the exact same information as the first application, I was found eligible,” said Ferrarie.

It may seem odd, but it is working for many who were rejected.

“I’m hearing stories of people reapplying, and surprisingly with the reapplication, they’re being deemed eligible, and they’ll get the benefits a lot quicker than the appeal process,” said labor attorney Arthur Schofield.

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WPTV has contacted the Department of Econmic Opportunity for the last few weeks, trying to find out how many appeals are in the state. The DEO said Wednesday there are more than 8,200 appeals as of May 2 and 30 appeals judges.

Schofield believes the Department of Economic Opportunity is being overwhelmed with appeals.

“With the staff they have now, they can’t handle the appeals. They have to hire people,” says Schofield.

The state placed online ads this week for attorneys to serve as appeals judges at a yearly salary of about $40,000.

“I think the state is going to have a very difficult time attracting folks to apply for those positions,” said Schofield.

Schofield said it is adding up to massive delays for unemployed workers seeking help.

“With this happening now, both the small number of hearing referees and the large number of people filed, we could be looking at anywhere from four to six months,” said Schofield.

As many people fall behind on bills and their rent, waiting for months doesn’t seem realistic. Experts say if you have been turned down for benefits, it’s worth another try by reapplying.