DEO putting holds on unemployment benefits for those who have been incarcerated

Alexandra Bilbao is an unemployed mother of four, and for the last two months, she hasn’t received any unemployment benefits all because she was in jail for about a day more than ten years ago.

"I check every day, twice a day, three times a day. I’m on it," she explains. "I was previously incarcerated for a day. I had an unpaid ticket that I had a warrant because I didn’t know I had an unpaid ticket."

She is one of many Floridians currently dealing with an incarceration hold from the state Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), which handles unemployment benefits.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani says many have become homeless because of this issue.

"What DEO says is they’re trying to prevent fraud but their fraud-preventative measures are not actually stopping fraud. It’s actually hurting a lot of good people who just want to get their benefits," said Rep. Eskamani, D-Orlando.

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DEO sent FOX 35 News a statement, saying in part, "The Department is working diligently to integrate data into the CONNECT system to resolve incarceration holds and hopes to have the issue resolved soon. In the meantime, the Department has dedicated additional resources to manually adjudicate the issues until the data is fully integrated into the system."

They recommend people like Bilbao continue to claim their benefits and check their CONNECT account every 48 hours.

But those who are unemployed can only wait so long.

"I’m just kind of hoping that any day now it gets put into my account because I don’t want to be left homeless," said Bilbao.

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