WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Unemployment benefits for Floridians took center stage on Wednesday during a news conference in West Palm Beach.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel spoke at City Hall and highlighted the benefits available for jobless Floridians who are suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There are many of us, myself, the mayor, state legislators, who are literally pounding on the governor to try to get the system fixed," Frankel said.
The congresswoman said the following benefits are available through the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) gives everyone receiving state benefits an additional $600 per week for up to 16 weeks
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) gives everyone receiving state benefits access to an additional 13 weeks of state benefits paid for by the federal government
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) gives "gig workers" (self-employed workers, independent contractors, and freelancers) and others who were previously ineligible for state unemployment benefits access to 39 weeks of state benefits paid for by the federal government, as well as $600 per week for up to 16 weeks
In addition, Rep. Frankel urged the state to take action to "ensure everyone who has been laid off, furloughed, or lost hours due to the pandemic can easily and quickly access the benefits they are entitled to."
The congresswoman offered advice to Floridians who are struggling with the application process.
"Take a photo of your application screen, or take a photo of your paper so that you can prove the day you have applied," Frankel said.
Florida has paid out only about 6.2 percent of the 1.5 million unemployment claims submitted since March 15, according to the state's Department of Economic Opportunity.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said the DEO has added staff and upgraded computer servers to process those claims faster.
"We're definitely in a better spot than we were," DeSantis said on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Last week, the governor said he suspended a requirement that had forced jobless Floridians to recertify every two weeks that they were still unemployed.
The recertification process was putting Florida's mobile-friendly Pega website under too much pressure, DeSantis said.
"From what the technicians told me, that will relieve some stress on the system," DeSantis said in Tallahassee on April 16. "This will hopefully free up some space to move some more claims through."
To learn more about unemployment benefits in Florida, click here.