FLORIDA

Florida Unemployment Benefits 

The Florida unemployment insurance (UI) program is called “Reemployment Assistance Benefits.” During recent years, the program was referred to as unemployment compensation, so petitioners may encounter both terms while conducting preliminary research as they prepare their applications. To claim unemployment benefits, candidates must meet specific program requirements that dictate who is eligible to receive UI and who is not. These requirements relate to income levels and general finances, as well as employment history

The sections below will outline these eligibility for unemployment prerequisites, as well as a guide describing how to apply for unemployment online. By maintaining updated personal records and preparing their statements beforehand, petitioners can strengthen the likelihood that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will accept their claims.

What is Florida unemployment insurance?

Like other states across the country, Florida’s UI benefits program is a helpful tool for local workers who need temporary financial assistance when they are in between jobs. Specifically, unemployment insurance is available to individuals who lost work through no fault of their own and are actively searching for new work opportunities. In Florida, these UI benefits are available to residents for up to 12 weeks within a single calendar year. How long candidates are eligible to receive these benefits is established based on the information applicants provide to the DEO.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Florida?

Eligibility for unemployment in Florida is determined on a case-by-case basis, and the DEO reviews all applications individually. However, candidates may still wonder, “What are the requirements to get unemployment in FL?” Generally, unemployment insurance eligibility is determined after the DEO considers the following factors:

  • Are the claimants unemployed through no fault of their own?
  • Are they able and willing to accept work?
  • Did they make enough money in recent months to qualify for UI now?
  • Are the petitioners actively searching for new employment?
  • Have the applicants worked in Florida during the past 12 to 18 months?

One of the most important factors that goes into determining who qualifies for unemployment in Florida relates to the first bullet point in this list: how applicants lost their jobs. When the DEO determines whether or not employees are responsible for their severances, they usually examine factors such as whether or not the employees quit, if they attempted to remedy their situations and if their supervisors encouraged or ordered them to quit. These cases are uniquely evaluated. However, employees who lost their jobs under the following circumstances are usually eligible to receive UI benefits:

  • —In instances where employees are fired due to poor job performance or other issues relating to the work they produced, they may be eligible to receive UI.
  • —Applicants who are laid off by their employers are usually able to receive UI compensation.
  • Natural disasters—When there is a natural disaster or other emergency that damages a business and renders it inoperable, employees are generally able to collect UI benefits.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Florida?

Petitioners wondering how to apply for unemployment online must remember they must do so through the DEO’s website. The Florida online application for UI is straightforward, but before they begin to apply for unemployment benefits, petitioners must gather the following information to include in their applications:

  • —Petitioners must submit their Social Security Numbers, as well as their driver’s license numbers or their state identification numbers.
  • Employment history—Candidates must include this information for all employers they have had within the past 18 months. The type of information that must be submitted includes: employers’ contact information, gross earnings (the money they made before taxes were taken out of their paychecks), why the employees left these positions, the dates they were employed there, and tax identifiers that can be found on paystubs or previous W2 forms.
  • Immigration documentation—Applicants who are not United States citizens will also need to produce their alien registration numbers, as well as relevant work authorization forms they possess.
  • Specific employee information—Federal and military employees will need to submit their identifying numbers. Similarly, union members must submit their union names, hall numbers and phone numbers.

Applicants may file an unemployment claim in Florida once they have gathered this information. Upon accessing the state’s UI registration page, claimants will be responsible for entering this information as accurately as possible. UI petitions can be submitted if the applications are not complete. However, doing so will result in claimants’ applications being delayed.

How do I prepare for the Florida unemployment insurance interview?

In most instances, applicants will need to participate in a Florida unemployment phone interview before the DEO can make decision regarding their cases. The questions asked during the UI interview are case-specific, and they are designed to help the DEO representatives determine whether or not candidates are eligible to receive program benefits. Oftentimes, the employers and the employees will be required to participate in these conversations. Regardless, both parties will receive notification from the DEO that outlines details relating to the UI interviews.

The unemployment interview with employer is usually brief, although the DEO may require employers to participate in additional calls if any issues or points of contention remain after the initial interviews. In order to make these conversations as productive and informative as possible, employers can prepare by having written documents on hand that relate to their employees’:

  • Official work dates and other similar records.
  • Exit interview notes.
  • Written warnings they issued to the claimants.

The unemployment interview with claimant functions similarly. Prior to their interviews, claimants will receive a notice mailed from the DEO, and these forms outline specific questions they may ask during the interviews. Candidates must prepare for the unemployment insurance interview by reviewing these points. In addition to preparing answers to these questions, UI candidates can prepare for the unemployment phone interview by gathering documentation related to:

  • Specific work conditions or actions that led to their job loss.
  • The reasons surrounding their discharges.
  • Actions they took to improve conditions or resolve issues at their jobs.

These FL unemployment interviews are not graded, so there is no way to know how to pass the unemployment insurance interview. While the DEO uses these conversations in their evaluations, these interviews provide both parties with time to express their viewpoints. Therefore, employers and employees should focus on providing answers that are as detailed and accurate as possible.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Florida?

Applicants may claim unemployment benefits in Florida only after their petitions for coverage have been accepted. This Wage Transcript and Determination notification informs candidates about the benefits they could receive, if they continue to meet additional program requirements. These maintenance-based stipulations are put in place to ensure recipients are still eligible to receive UI benefits after their initial acceptances. Examples of these requirements include:

  • Requesting benefits—Every two weeks, enrollees must request their program benefits. This happens regardless for how many weeks beneficiaries are preapproved to receive payment. Once the first claim payment is received, enrollees will receive their Florida Debit Card in the mail, which they will use to access their benefits.
  • Enrolling in Workforce Services—Beneficiaries must enroll with Workforce Services before they may receive their first round of benefits. This is to ensure program participants are actively searching for employment.
  • Submitting professional contacts—Each benefits recertification period, which comes every two weeks, enrollees are required to submit five work search contacts. This means that each time they recertify their benefits, program participants must list the names of five individuals they contacted regarding work opportunities. Enrollees must include when and how they contacted these professionals, what type of work they sought and the responses they received.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Florida?

Candidates who are denied unemployment in Florida can appeal these decisions. Appeals referees facilitate these reevaluations, and employers and employees can request appeals. These filings must be completed within 20 days of receiving the DEO’s determinations. These hearings are conducted over the phone, and both parties may submit written or verbal statements. In addition, the appeals referees will ask questions regarding the cases. Both parties are not required to participate in an unemployment denial appeal interview, but it is in their best interests to do so. The UI benefits appeal decision will overturn whatever had been previously decided, so employers and employees should take the opportunity to reiterate their cases.

Employers and employees do not need to participate in the UI benefits hearing alone. In fact, both parties are legally allowed to request:

  • —If a participant’s first language is not English, he or she may request a translator’s presence during the interview.
  • Legal representation—While most individuals represent themselves during these UI hearings, participants may request legal representation during this process. However, each party is responsible for paying their own legal fees.
  • —Both parties can bring witnesses to their appeals hearings. These individuals should have firsthand knowledge of the claimants’ employment, and they must register with the Office of Appeals before the hearing.

Once the appeals referees make their decisions on these UI benefits appeals, they will notify both parties as soon as possible. These determinations will be mailed to participants, and the results will also be available online. If either party disagrees with the appeals decision, they have 20 calendar days from the time their notices were mailed to request a review by the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Florida? 

Obtaining a federal unemployment extension is generally not an option for Florida UI beneficiaries. This is because these programs are only offered during periods of widespread employment challenges, and the federal government decides when this program goes into effect. When activated, this UI extension generally offers recipients up to an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits. Once these benefits are available, program participants must contact the DEO to request enrollment.

How do I contact the Florida unemployment office?

In order to contact the Florida unemployment office, individuals should call the DEO’s toll free number, which will present inquirers with self-service options. For additional assistance, they may be directed to speak with a customer service representative. For mailings and in-person inquires, the office is located at:

107E Madison Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399

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UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY INFORMATION

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 107 East Madison Street Tallahassee, FL 32399 (866) 352-2345 View Website Unemployement Claim File