Unemployment system glitch leaves many without pay after Thanksgiving

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: via WINK News.

A glitch in the Florida unemployment system kept people from their cash, and it caused more stress this holiday season.

Some coined it a “holiday hold” because some of Floridians who requested benefits on Thanksgiving and Black Friday didn’t get paid when they should have.

Joseph Reilly couldn’t start his new job in March because of the pandemic, but he still considered himself pretty lucky.

“It’s been like clockwork,” Reilly said. “Since I’ve signed up for unemployment, every Saturday I get it.”

That was until, on the day he felt most thankful for what’s he’s got, he hit a roadblock.

“I got online and just claimed the weeks, went through everything just like normal, answered the exact same way, and it’s just been sitting on hold,” Reilly said. “It shows zero dollars and just hold.”

Reilly and thousands of others who logged on Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday are now dealing with a hold on their unemployment claims, and they don’t know why.

“It means I got to kind of figure things out, not go do anything or use gas, have to eat what’s in the fridge,” Reilly said.

Vanessa Brito is an unemployment expert and advocate who’s helped people navigate the system since the pandemic began. She’s already sent hundreds of these cases to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for review.

“I’ve looked through my messages, and I can’t even tell you,” Brito said. “It’s gotta be over 1,000 people that I’m dealing with, and I haven’t even checked today what’s going on. It’s too much.”

Brito said, from what she saw, there was no pattern to the glitch.

“You know, is it people that have a certain payment method?” Brito said. “Was it the time? Is it the program they’re on?”

At a time when Reilly might be thinking about gifts this holiday season, that’s on hold too.

“Oh yeah, it’s just not happening whatsoever,” Reilly said.

UPDATE: “The cause of the “Hold” issue on payments has been identified and will not be a problem moving forward,” said Tiffany Vause, the DEO director of communications. “The Reemployment Assistance Team is working diligently to resolve the issue and projects that this should be corrected for claimants by the end of the week.”

If you’re still having trouble and would like to reach Brito for help, you can find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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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