ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida rolled out a new, user-friendly online unemployment application after weeks of complaints with the old one.
The state’s unemployment website has been overwhelmed with claims in recent weeks because of people losing their jobs as businesses shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials said there have been nearly half a million claims and more are coming in every day.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said the new online application is designed to be used with mobile devices, unlike the old application. The old “Connect” application website was down overnight Thursday as IT workers did maintenance to help the system process current claims quicker.
The old application system was set to go back online at 7 a.m. Thursday.
“A 12 year old could have built this website better. It’s shocking,” wedding photographer Michael Freas said about the old website.
Unemployed during the height of wedding season because most weddings are on hold, Freas said he began applying for unemployment on March 18th and hit several roadblocks, online and on the customer service hotline.
He said, “Every morning calling. I’d do it again from 12-1:30 then from about 4 to 5:30 just trying to hit different points of the day.”
Freas said he finally got a call back from the DEO on Wednesday and was able to file an unemployment claim.
Governor Ron DeSantis said officials have added dozens of new servers and hired additional staff to help keep up with the record-breaking number of claims being submitted to the state. People can still mail a paper application to the DEO but it could take longer to process it than an online application.
Here's how it works:
Users must create a password-protected login at the website: www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication. Floridians who do not have a current open Reemployment Assistance claim should complete their application online.
To download the paper Reemployment Assistance application, Floridians should visit www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19, or you can find PDF forms at the bottom of this article.
If a Floridian chooses to submit a paper application for Reemployment Assistance benefits, they should mail their application to DEO, and a representative will call when their application is processed.
Step 1 – Collect all information needed to complete the Reemployment Application.
You will need the following information to submit an application for Reemployment Assistance benefits. You are encouraged to collect the following documents and information before beginning the application process.
- Social Security number
- Driver’s License or State ID number
- Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer:
- Employer ID - FEIN number (this is found on your W2 or 1099 tax form), if available
- Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number
- First and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) covering the last 18 months
- Reason for separation
If you are one of the following, make sure you have this additional information available:
- Not a U.S. Citizen: Alien Registration Number or other work authorization form
- Military employee: Copy of your DD-214 Member 4; If you do not have the Member 4, then a copy of your Member 2-7 may be used.
- Federal employee: SF-8 or SF-50
- Union member: Union name, hall number, and phone number
Any Floridian who has lost their job due to COVID-19, is encouraged to complete a Reemployment Assistance application. The following are the steps needed to complete an application online or by mail.
Step 2 – Submit your Reemployment Assistance application.
You can apply online at www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication or print an application for Reemployment Assistance at www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19. Paper applications may take longer to process than completing an online application.
Paper applications can be mailed to:
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, P.O. Box 5350, Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350
CareerSource locations across the state are available to assist with completing and submitting your online application. They are also available to provide paper applications. Visit CareerSourceFlorida.com for center locations.
FedEx is also offering Floridians the option to print and mail applications for Reemployment Assistance at locations throughout the state free of charge. Visit https://local.fedex.com/en-us/fl/ to find a participating location near you.
Step 3 – Receive your Reemployment Assistance application confirmation.
If you mail your Reemployment Assistance application to DEO, a representative will contact you after your application is processed.
A written determination will be provided electronically and/or by mail to explain if you are monetarily eligible, and if you are, what your weekly benefit amount will be.
For more information about Reemployment Assistance benefits and how to apply, visit DEO’s mobile-friendly site www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19.