Frustrations grow with trying to CONNECT for federal benefits

People who already applied for federal Pandemic Unemploymet Assistance (PUA) benefits are being told to reapply, if they originally filed before April 4 through the website managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

It’s supposed to be an improved system on the DEO website, but some say the system is still giving them trouble. Wedding photographer Michael Freas says it’s still failing big time.

"You go to put in your work information, you click next...technical error. [I've tried] 54 times since 9 o’clock this morning," he adds. "Called my dad asked him to co-sign a loan for me. "

A DEO spokesperson says they’re conducting nightly maintenance to the state's CONNECT System to process claims. Even lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle say they are disenchanted with the process and hopes the website starts moving faster.

"We have been pushing DEO and DMS [Florida Department of Managemet Services] to get this website fixed. It’s been 6-8 weeks now and it continues to cause problems," says Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Senator David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs says, "I know there’s a huge number of claims that are being processed, and I believe that the governor is able to get this corrected within a reasonable period of time."

Freas says the time is now.

"You can't through to the system, you can’t get on the phone to speak, you can’t get anybody on the phone to speak, you can’t get anybody to email you back."