Filing for unemployment benefits is still a struggle for so many throughout the state. As part of “Rebound South Florida” we are informing those out of work on what they can do while they wait to hear the status of their claims.
“You have to go home, unfortunately our business is slow,” said Deziray
The financial strain felt by Deziray Mosier is just a glimpse of what millions are experiencing nationwide. She worked as a server at a Duffy’s in Palm Beach Gardens and got let go after they were forced to close. She applied for unemployment over a month ago and hasn’t heard back.
“They don’t answer, I’ve emailed them. I had one person email me say somebody would contact me Wednesday or Thursday, that’s the most action I’ve gotten from them,” said Deziray.
Frustrations are high with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity system. Over the weekend, the DEO shut it down. They reopened it on Monday releasing updated numbers showing more than 800,000 claims submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 80% have been processed and 47% percent have been paid.
Unemployment expert Laurie Yadoff works for Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida. She says people who’ve reached out for help are desperate.
“They don’t have money in the bank to rely on for support. Some of them don’t have families that are able to support them. There’s a real struggle that they’re going through. And the uncertainty of whether or not they’re going to get any money from the unemployment compensation system has been very trying on them,” said Laurie
If you’ve been denied of unemployment benefits, Laurie encourages you to file an appeal right away.
“Under the regular unemployment system, you have 20 days to file an appeal, so you have to stay within that deadline. If you contact us, we’ll help you do that. We can also represent you at a hearing if you want to contest the reason for the denial,” said Laurie.
Laurie says if you’re having trouble filing for unemployment, the DEO updated their system to make it more accessible.
“The system only allowed initially a phone application, if you were unable to use a computer, or a computer application. So, for those people who couldn’t access the computer or were getting shutdown because the number of calls and they couldn’t reach anyone by phone for the same reason, that the calls were so overwhelming, those people are now given the opportunity to file a paper application or file through their phone on a mobile application,” said Laurie.
As for Deziray, she says she’s fortunate to have a roof over her head and some money to fall back on, but she misses her coworkers.
“We’re in contact every single day, we’re always talking about unemployment. One of them was approved and she filed a month after me. She was approved which I’m grateful for because she didn’t have any savings or anything to fall back on,” said Deziray.
Laurie says they offer free services for eligible Broward County residents. If you want to reach Coast to Coast Legal aid of South Florida for help, call 954-736-2400 or head to CoasttoCoastLegalAid.org