Ken Lawson, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity We’ve taken a lot of calls and messages from people trying to file for unemployment in Florida amid the coronavirus — facing broken websites and hours-long waits on the phone. Now we’re getting a little clarification from the man in charge. Ken Lawson, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, joined state lawmakers in a Zoom meeting Thursday. They asked him about a number of issues, including the issues people have had while filing. He said out of the 1.5 million calls his office took last week, a third were to reset PIN numbers. Lawson says they’ve now hired a call center to start processing those calls. He added they’re also working on a mobile-friendly version of the website, and even creating a paper application people can mail in. He says one thing to keep in mind is we’re all facing this pandemic together. “In terms of what I’m going through now, with the website and the calling numbers, I do ask for patience,” Lawson said. “Patience is thin. But recognize that we all are in this together, and the 1,500 people who work in the DEO are Floridians too who are hurting and afraid, and are committed to serving their fellow Floridians. “My people accept the success. I’ll accept the blame. I own this.” Lawson detailed a few other things to keep in mind — under the CARES Act passed by congress, you’ll get an additional $600 on top of whatever unemployment benefits you get from the state. The federal legislation also makes the state benefits available to GIG workers and sole proprietors who normally are not eligible.
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