Head of DEO ‘not aware’ of asking people to reapply for unemployment

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:

WINK News has sent the state thousands of names of people who are still waiting for unemployment benefits or have unanswered questions and concerns, and some of you said Wednesday that you’ve gotten paid as a result.

More than 7,300 names have been sent to the Department of Economic Opportunity and the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis after we asked you on Monday to let us know if you were still waiting.

In a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis said, “There’s still to this day glitches being fixed, every single day, software upgrades.”

Glitches, missing or incorrect information and multiple applications could be reasons your benefits have been delayed.

“Anytime you have multiple claims for the same person, there’s going to be a fraud alert on that,” he said.

DeSantis and Sec. Jon Satter, head of the DEO, laid out the state’s progress with unemployment benefits on Tuesday. According to the claims dashboard, more than $2.6 million has been paid out.

“For the folks that are still sort of stuck because they either didn’t provide a complete claim, or it wasn’t accurate, we have a large number that we have to touch manually,” Satter said.

The secretary said the DEO has partnered with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to work on a tool that will cut down the identity verification backlog of more than 62,000 people.

“So that should get stood up hopefully in the next three or four days,” he said.

Countless changes have been made to the system over the last two months. Many of you have been frustrated and confused by the process of applying, claiming weeks or reapplying in order to get paid.

When questioned about the confusing process during the press conference on Tuesday, Satter said, “I’m not aware of us asking anybody to reapply, I’ve only been here since April 16.”

But WINK News found on the DEO’s website, under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) guide for applying – it explicitly states “If you applied for Reemployment Assistance before [OR] on April 4, 2020, you must submit another application.”

That notice is dated April 26, which is 10 days after Satter took over.

The DEO said they’re working “as quickly as they can” to answer WINK News’ daily questions, some we’ve been asking for weeks. They said they can’t tell us specifically who they’ve helped from the list of names we sent them, so if you filled out our form and you’ve gotten help or seen progress, let us know.

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

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