Mix of frustration and relief as changes to unemployment programs roll out, questions remain

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

As the state begins to roll out changes and extensions to unemployment compensation, courtesy of the new stimulus bill, some Floridians worry it won’t be smooth.

Community activist Vanessa Brito, who’s been helping decipher and guide people through the unemployment system for months, is preparing for the worst.

“I want people to be prepared for a tremendous amount of issues and glitches. I want people to be prepared that there may be a lapse in benefits, especially if they need to reapply,” Brito said. “Because there is a gap of a couple of days when applications are pending and then put into an ‘active-eligible’ status.”

WINK News followed up with the DEO on Monday January 4th for instructions and clarity on what claimants should expect to see on their accounts, but we did not receive a response.

“I think on Monday, is the entire process going to be efficient and streamlined? Probably not,” Brito said. “But if we can at least have clarity on what the process is going to be: Do people need to reply, yes or no? If you do, who are those people, who are those claimants that are going to have to reapply?”

Here’s what some people in Florida were dealing with Monday.

Brito says implementing all the changes, along with requiring another Quarter-Change questionnaire, will be a nightmare for some. The changes include extending PUA and PEUC, introducing MEUC, and initiating the extra weekly $300 FPUC.

“We know that in the past, the quarterly changes have always been difficult. They’ve always led to a series of glitches for a certain number of claimants,” Brito said. “I think it’s not so much the process of having to fill out the questionnaire, knowing what to expect in terms of what that means, but what is going to happen after? Because there’s other compounding issues now.”

In regards to MEUC, Brito thinks the qualifications are confusing and too little, too late.

“It’s $100 boost to the [weekly benefit amount], but it cannot exceed 275,” Brito said. “So if somebody is receiving $200 as their WBA, they’re not gonna go up to 300. They’re going to get a $75 boost.”

Brito looked over the guidance provided to states from the U.S. Department of Labor to try to clear things up, but she and many unemployed people are still left with many questions.

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