I-Team: Fighting for your unemployment claims

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 17:09:10-04

I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern has been working for months to get you answers and get you paid.

Having trouble with Florida unemployment? Let us help:

  • If you are unemployed and having problems specifically with receiving federal funds, click here.
  • For all other unemployment issues, including state unemployment funds, problems with the DEO website or unemployment account issues, click here.

In some cases, we found it’s getting people help quicker. We plan to pick people at random who have submitted their information, to see where their unemployment claim stands and if they've been paid.
To hold state unemployment officials accountable, so far, Kylie has sent the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity the names and information to around 22,800 people. These are people who say they are still waiting on state or federal unemployment checks they are owed.

Robin Taylor

  • Lives in Valrico
  • Met with the I-Team in July after not receiving a penny in unemployment in 12 weeks. Anonymous donor, who was once struggling to receive unemployment herself, gave $200 gift card to help Taylor.
  • Two weeks later, Taylor received all of the money she was owed

“I can’t even describe it," Taylor said of the moment she received the thousands of dollars she was owed in state and federal unemployment checks. "It’s been a relief. It’s like the weight of the world has been kind of lifted off my shoulders a little bit. So I’m just tickled to death that it worked out for the best and I’m able to do something to help somebody else."

Esmerlin Sanchez

  • Lives in New Port Richey
  • Contacted the I-Team in May and was paid everything he was owed in June.

“I owed so much money in my bills and my rent," Esmerlin Sanchez told the I-Team. "And I was so afraid, I told the DEO I don’t want to be in the street.”

Sanchez was a Lyft driver and first applied for unemployment in March. He contacted the I-Team in May, when he still had not received a penny.

“I just wanted to share my story so people can not lose hope. Because personally, I lost hope!" said Sanchez. "I cried each day."

Ultimately, Sanchez went four months without a paycheck or unemployment before he was finally paid the more than $6,000 he was owed.

"From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you to you. You helped me. You helped me to get my unemployment," Sanchez told the I-Team.

He encourages others, still waiting on unemployment checks, not to give up.

“You can’t give up and leave the DEO all the money that belongs to you," said Sanchez.

Paul Gonzalez

  • Lives in the Florida Keys
  • The I-Team sent his information to the state in May and he started unemployment the same month

Paul Gonzalez reached out to the I-Team for help after he lost his hotel job in March.
Today, he is "pretty much almost caught up," on state and federal unemployment checks and is back to work.

But Gonzalez waited nearly two months to receive any unemployment money and said he couldn't get answers from the state. Instead, he told the I-Team he relied on TV reports and newspaper articles for information.

“It’s people like you that really help all of us. And you know, we’re all on this world to help each other, we’re all here - love, fun, this is what life’s about," said Gonzalez.

This week, the I-Team contacted five random people who filled out our unemployment forms and two told us they have not received all of the money they were owed.

Bob Snyder

  • Lives in Seminole
  • Contacted the I-Team in May and a week later, received all of the state and federal unemployment checks he was owed

“There’s many people who, like myself at one point, felt like just quitting and giving up on trying to get it. Because we weren’t getting anywhere. And there’s a lot of people that still haven’t gotten any money. I mean I’m grateful for the fact that I have. And I think that’s due in part to your help, which I really appreciate, but it’s people like you who are pushing,” said Snyder.
Snyder said he wants Governor Ron DeSantis to know, “This is about taking care of people. Making sure that the people have what they need.”

NOTE: WSFL receives no information from DEO on specific claims. We are only able to pass claimant information on to DEO.