Florida unemployment benefits guide
If you've lost your Florida job through no fault of your own, you're likely eligible for unemployment benefits. Think of your payments as a temporary lift to keep you out of poverty until you can land a new job and start over once more.
In the fall of 2020, nearly 7% of Florida residents were unemployed. If you need help, you're certainly not alone. And Florida officials have streamlined the application process, so you can get financial help quickly and efficiently.
We'll walk through how the benefits work, how to apply, and how to keep your application current, so you never miss a paycheck.
Are You Eligible for Florida Unemployment Benefits?
All unemployment programs, no matter where you live, are offered in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. Each state sets some eligibility requirements, but in general, if you've lost your job through no fault of your own, you should get help from your state's unemployment office.
The Florida process involves four steps.
- Filing: You notify the state that you've lost your job, and you offer details about your employment history and your salary.
- Verification: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) examines your paperwork and reaches out to organizations like the Social Security Administration to ensure that you've been truthful.
- Determination: The DEO specifies the size of your checks, and you're told how much to expect. If the DEO doesn't believe you're eligible, you're notified of that too.
- Payments: You'll get your money via direct deposit or prepaid card. Sign up to receive your payments via direct deposit with your Current account and routing numbers and you’ll receive your benefits up to two days faster than traditional banks.
To qualify for benefits in Florida, reviewers set up a base period. It's typically four quarters, including the one in which you lost your job. During that time, you must prove that you were employed with a paycheck and that you made at least $3,400.
You could be deemed ineligible for benefits if:
- Your unemployment is voluntary. If you walked away from a job, either permanently or temporarily, you forfeit benefits.
- You were discharged with cause. If your employer cited misconduct, dishonesty, or suspension, your benefits could be at risk.
- You have income from employment. If you're getting workers' compensation benefits, unemployment checks from another state, retirement pay, or severance pay, you may not be eligible.
- You lied. If you make a false statement, your application could be denied.
Know that officials aren't looking for reasons to deny eligible people benefits. If you're truly in need and you meet all the requirements, you'll get help.
But as tempting as it might be to fudge the numbers and otherwise lie your way to a better paycheck, the risks are too great. Be as honest as you can, so you don’t put your checks in jeopardy.
How to Apply for Florida Unemployment
Losing a job is traumatic, and it's reasonable to need time to mourn and process. But filling out your unemployment application should sit at the top of your to-do list. You only have one week to begin the claims process.
Before you begin, gather up the documents you need to:
- Verify your identity. You must offer your Social Security number and Florida driver's license number.
- Cite your employers. You must list the name, phone number, and address of all of the employers you worked for within the last 18 months. Ideally, you'll have your taxes available, so you can identify organizations by their Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
- Describe your financial connection to your employers. You must give the first and last day you worked for the employer and list your gross earnings (before taxes). You'll also describe why you left the organization.
With all documents in your possession, it's time to file your claim. You can do that via:
- The internet. Go to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to fill out an application on your computer or mobile device.
- Snail mail. Go to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and follow the prompts for a paper application. When you've finished it, mail it to the address listed at the top of the form.
- In person. Visit CareerSource Florida to find a center near you. Staff can help you fill out a paper application.
Set aside plenty of time to fill out your paperwork carefully and completely. If you make a mistake and don't catch it in time, you can't correct it. Applications are sealed until they are reviewed, and a denied claim can cost you a precious paycheck. Go as slowly as you need to, and make sure everything is perfect.
Whether you use an internet connection or a piece of paper to apply, you'll be registered within the Florida unemployment system. You'll be given a username and login for a website called CONNECT. Keep track of it, as you'll use this site repeatedly to manage your benefits.
What to Do if Your Claim Is Denied
Each Florida unemployment claim is reviewed carefully, and sometimes, teams determine that applicants just aren't eligible for the program. If this happens and you think a mistake has been made, you can fight back.
Wait until you get an official Notice of Disqualification from Florida officials. You'll see instructions about how to appeal. But know that some appeal efforts aren't successful.
How Much Will You Get?
Don't expect your Florida unemployment check to be as large as a typical paycheck. The program isn't meant to replace every single cent you lose when your job disappears. But the more information you provide about your true wages, the larger your payment might be.
Wages that are covered include those that stem from:
- Salary. Whether you work for a per-hour fee or a flat rate, your lost wages should be covered.
- Rewards. Commissions, bonuses, and back payments are all part of your salary package.
- Other forms of compensation. If you're somehow paid without cash, the value of those transactions should be covered.
These distinctions matter. Imagine that you worked for a small per-hour salary selling cars, and you make a commission on each sale you complete. List only your hourly rate on your form, and you could be leaving money on the table.
Your payments can vary, but understanding upper and lower limits could help you create a meaningful budget. Florida reemployment assistance ranges between $32 and $275 per week.
During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Florida residents were eligible for additional programs that added up to $900 to their paychecks. But eligibility varies, and these programs aren’t expected to last indefinitely.
How Long Do Florida Unemployment Benefits Last?
Expect to get checks from the program for up to 12 weeks. Some pandemic programs extend the timeframe, but again, these aren't considered permanent solutions. And even if you are accepted, you must work to keep your benefits.
To ensure that the checks keep coming, you must:
- Sign up. People getting benefits must register with Employ Florida.
- Look for work. You must keep a record of the people you contact as part of your job hunt.
- Request your benefits. Every other week, you must log into CONNECT and ask for your benefits check.
Applying for benefits may seem onerous. But it's relatively easy. Visit your account, and tap on the "Request Benefit Payment" link on the left-hand side of the screen. Confirm your address, answer a few questions, and you're done!
Get Your Benefits Quickly
When you sign up for Florida unemployment benefits, you're given a choice. Use direct deposit, or accept a prepaid card. Sign up to receive your payments via direct deposit with your Current account and routing numbers and you’ll receive your benefits up to two days faster than traditional banks if you’re a premium member.
Traditional banks accept money from unemployment accounts, but they sit on the funds for a day or two. We don't. As soon as the money arrives, it hits your account. You'll get your check up to two days faster with us.
Find out more about this system and how we can help you. Not yet a Current member? Download our app and create an account in just two minutes.
Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC. The Current Visa Debit Card is issued by Choice Financial Group pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
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