‘The only thing Florida was prepared for was to fail:’ Jacksonville woman missed deadline to request benefits after weeks-long silence from state

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'The only thing Florida was prepared for was to fail:' Jacksonville woman missed deadline to request benefits after weeks-long silence from state

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Since businesses across Florida began shutting down and unemployment claims shot up starting early March, a massive influx of filings continues to inundate the state agency tasked with disbursing benefits. Tea Aaron is a 19-year TV production freelancer in Jacksonville. Aaron had filed and was approved for unemployment benefits from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) back in January. Since she was approved, Aaron did not use the benefits much as she picked up production jobs through the first months of the year. However, the need arose after she was laid off from a freelance job at The Players Championship on March 13. “The past month-and-a-half for me has been a roller coaster of emotions,” she said. “A lot of ups, a lot of downs. All my interviews were cancelled until further notice and the system froze.” Having a claim for benefits approved is just one step required in order to receive money from the state; after one’s claim is approved, they have to request the payments bi-weekly. Normally, the applicant would have to provide work search information, although that requirement has been waived. “Now that my benefits are expired due to not being able to get into the system, there’s nothing I can do about my claim without physically speaking to someone,” Aaron said. “I’m one of the lucky ones who already had a claim approved, but it does no good because you can’t claim the benefits.” Aaron said she tried for weeks to reach someone at FDEO to get help requesting her benefits since she was not able to on the website. She said her calls were not answered and she never got an e-mail back. “I think it’s to the point now where you just keep trying and trying and trying but […]

Original Post www.firstcoastnews.com

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