Unemployment benefits are provided to those who are without a job and need financial assistance from the government. This article will go over what unemployment benefits are provided in Florida, how to apply, and other relevant information.
What are Unemployment Benefits?
Unemployment benefits (sometimes referred to as unemployment compensation and reemployment assistance) provide qualified individuals with temporary financial assistance from the government. This opportunity is provided to those that are out of work as a result of something they did not cause. For example, if an individual was laid off from their company, they can apply for unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if they quit their job, they cannot receive unemployment benefits.
The Florida Reemployment Assistance Program
In Florida, there is a program called the ‘Florida Reemployment Assistance Program,’ which provides benefits at the state and federal level. Under this program, Florida residents who qualify will receive temporary unemployment insurance payments. To be eligible for this program, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- Actively looking for a new job each week, as they are collecting benefits on a weekly basis;
- Have been working within the past 12 months (can be longer depending on the specific circumstance); and
- Have earned a certain amount in wages.
How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
The entire process of applying for unemployment benefits takes place online, and can take between 30 and 60 minutes. With that being said, an individual should apply for unemployment benefits within one week of losing their job. After applying, they should expect to wait two to three weeks and constantly check the status of their claim. If their claim was accepted, they should expect to receive their first payment two to four weeks after getting accepted.
The amount of financial assistance a person receives varies. Once they have submitted a claim and been accepted, applicants will find out how much they can receive. The amount a person receives also depends on the state that they are in. In the state of Florida, on average, a person can receive a maximum of $275 a week, for a total of twelve weeks. The maximum benefits amount a person in the state of Florida can receive is $3,300.
Duration of Unemployment Benefits
As briefly stated above, twelve weeks is the duration that an individual can receive financial assistance. Once the twelve are over, an individual will no longer receive the financial assistance each week. At the point of twelve weeks, a person should have secured a job, which is highly encouraged throughout the process. Once a person secures a job, even before the twelve-week mark, their weekly payments will cease. The only exception to that is if they are working temporarily or part time.
Can Unemployment Benefits be Extended?
As of November 2020, Florida no longer offers extended benefits. Extended benefits are additional payments given on top of the original twelve weeks. The additional time given used to be up to six weeks, and was only given after all the original benefits had been exhausted.
Although benefits can no longer be extended, there are other programs in place that provide assistance to those who qualify. Examples of these programs include:
- The Weatherization Assistance Program: This program is federally funded to assist individuals with home energy costs in low income households. These costs include air conditioning, water heating, and solar screens.
- The Community Services Block Grant Program: This program aids low income households who are looking to become self-sufficient. The funding for this program is given by the local government and non-profit agencies. This program focuses on combating poverty, which includes providing food banks, job counseling, and housing counseling.
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: This program is funded by the federal government and covers heating and cooling costs for low income households. This program does not cover water, sewage, or telephone costs, and assistance can be requested up to three times a year. It is important to note that the payments are given directly to the energy company, not to the individual/household.
Unemployment Benefits and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Like many other aspects of governance, the coronavirus pandemic has affected unemployment benefits in Florida. One difference that is now independent contractors and self-employed workers are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. Additionally, the government has waived certain requirements for the program; for example, applicants no longer have to wait two weeks to receive their first payment. New, relevant legislation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is the CARES Act. CARES stands for Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security. The Act was signed in March 2020 and available to most, if not all, Florida residents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Before applying for unemployment benefits, what information should I have ready?
A: When applying for unemployment benefits in Florida, you are encouraged to have the following items:
- Driver’s License/State ID number;
- Social Security number;
- Name, phone number, and address;
- The first and last dates of work, as well as reason for departure; and
- Gross earnings (before taxes).
Q: Can I only apply for benefits if I lose my job?
A: No, a person can apply for benefits for reasons other than losing a job or getting fired. For example, if your hours at work were cut down drastically or entirely reduced, you can apply for unemployment benefits.
Q: Does the state of Florida only provide financial assistance under their reemployment assistance program?
A: No, the state of Florida does not only provide financial assistance under their reemployment programs. For example, another way assistance is provided other than financially is through job assistance resources.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one wishes to apply for unemployment benefits, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.