Lawsuit Seeks To Force Florida To Keep Paying $300 Unemployment Benefits
- News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE Broward County residents struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic have filed a lawsuit challenging a decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis administration to cut off federal unemployment money for Floridians.
The lawsuit, filed Sunday in Broward County circuit court, contends that the DeSantis administration violated state law last month when it stopped providing $300 a week in federal assistance to jobless people. The money, approved by Congress as part of COVID-19 relief efforts, came on top of state unemployment benefits.
The DeSantis administration halted the federal assistance June 26, pointing to efforts to spur people to return to the workforce. But the lawsuit, which includes 10 named plaintiffs, said the payments should have continued until Sept. 6, as authorized by Congress under a program known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC, program.
Each of the plaintiffs have suffered economic hardships because of COVID, have had difficulty finding work and now with the discontinuation of the FPUC face even more pressing financial hardships, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which names as defendants DeSantis and Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle, seeks an injunction to force the state to reinstate the federal money. Also, it seeks retroactive payments to June 26.
What To Do If You Dont Qualify For Additional Benefits
Despite meeting eligibility requirements, if your additional $300 benefits are denied, you can file an unemployment appeal. You must file an appeal within 20 calendar days following the date of determination. If the 20th day falls on a legal holiday, Saturday, or Sunday, the appeal can be applied on the next business day.
After filing an appeal, you will receive a notice of hearing that includes time, date, and contact information. Make sure you dont miss the hearing, failing to which you may not receive benefits. However, if you cannot attend the scheduled hearing, inform the authorities in advance and request a postponement.
During the hearing, the appeal referee will review the submitted documents, record statements, and give his or her decision.
Note Continue to apply for benefits during the appeals process. If you win the appeal, you will receive benefits for the applied weeks.
Florida Opts Out Of $300 Federal Unemployment Benefit To Push People Back To Workforce
Charities prepare for rise in need as unemployment benefit ends
Catherine Hawley reports
TAMPA, Fla.Florida is now one of 26 states to end pandemic unemployment benefits early. Over the weekend, federal payments of $300 a week expired for Floridians.
Meanwhile, employers across Tampa Bay have had a hard time filling open positions.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar has four locations in Manatee County and owner John Horne tells us they are down at least 10 people at each restaurant.
Ive got one of my restaurants that I have not had an applicant for the kitchen in two months. No ones walked in the door looking for a job for two months, said Horne. Were using Indeed were using Facebook, were using all the different, Craigslist, you name it. Were trying to get people in to come back and work.
On June 26, Florida cut off extra $300 weekly unemployment payments through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program. The state made the decision to optout of that additional benefit as part of its Return to Work initiative, a move Horne hopes will bring more workers through his doors.
Over the last week, we have seen an uptick in applicants, he said.
Businesses welcome back cash from hockey fans
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, 503,000 people remain jobless in the Sunshine State, while more than 510,000 jobs are available.
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Work Search Requirements Delaying Benefit Claim Payments
Over the last few months many claimants have reported that their UI benefits have been delayed or stopped entirely since the DEO reinstated work search requirements, which their antiquated systems have struggled to process . This is despite eligible claimants applying for jobs and reporting this on their bi-weekly claims. The Benefit Year End Date , discussed in earlier updates below, does not seem to be the cause of the issue in most cases.
As a reminder, Work search requirements are now back in effect after Governor DeSantis had waived requirements for claimants through May 29, 2021. Claimants will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or claim their weeks. Claimants must confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work, in order to claim their benefit weeks.
Coupled with ongoing fraudulent claims many claimants have been caught in a web of automated call systems and process bureaucracy as their claims go unpaid. Getting hold of a live agent has also been a challenge with many reporting hours of hold times and/or getting an untrained/new agent who is not able to help them .
Phase 2 Staggered Lwa Payments Ca Ny Pa Nc
Due to the volume of payments and the fact that FEMA is approving/funding for remaining weeks several state like California and New York are paying the last few weeks of the LWA program. You can see this noted in the table and across the many comments below. So if you do see a delay between your first and subsequent rounds of payment it is likely due to the staggered nature of payments. Unfortunately states have not always been clear on the timing for these phase 2 payments as they are dependent of FEMA approval/funding and internal processing so many eligible claimants are facing delays in getting all their LWA payments.
The table is updated regularly as new information comes to hand. You can also follow my and feeds for micro real-time updates.
Additional Financial Relief Through The Federal Cares Act
The federal governmentâs COVID-19 relief package, known as the CARES Act, provides eligible unemployed individuals $600 per week for four months.
Those who qualify will receive this benefit in addition to their weekly Florida unemployment benefit. The federal unemployment benefit payments are scheduled to end July 31, 2020.
The CARES Act also authorizes direct relief payments to qualifying individuals and families. If you filed your 2019 or 2018 tax return and received your refund through direct deposit, your emergency relief payment will be automatically deposited in your bank account.
The payment amount for those who qualify is $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each child.
Could Pandemic Benefits Be Reinstated
As the federal expiration deadline approached, White House officials made it clear they were not planning to continue the enhanced jobless benefits past Labor Day, saying they were intended to be temporary. When multiple states pulled out of pandemic-era unemployment programs prematurely during the summer, Labor Department officials had said their hands were tied and they couldn’t counter decisions by governors.
On Sept. 15, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced that she would be introducing a bill to retroactively extend enhanced jobless benefits until February 2022. Saying she’s not sure of the prospects of the legislation being passed, Ocasio-Cortez noted that she “could not allow this to happen without at least trying.” The following day, she and 12 other Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to the House leadership urging them to include an expansion of unemployment aid in the $3.5 trillion budget package known as the Build Back Better Act.
It’s not clear at this time which states will choose to use any leftover pandemic funds to continue jobless benefits. According to a CBS News report, not every state has shut the door to continuing some benefits, with some local officials reviewing options for providing assistance after the Labor Day expiration.
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Waiting Week Waiver Expiration
Under normal circumstances, a person would have to wait one week after applying for unemployment benefits before becoming eligible to receive them. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order during the pandemic waiving this rule in an effort to speed up benefit distribution.
That waiver ended on June 26, 2021.
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Are Unemployment Benefits Taxable
Yes and no.
Unemployment benefits are generally taxable. Most states do not withhold taxes from unemployment benefits voluntarily, but you can request they withhold taxes.
But under ARPA, $10,200 of unemployment benefits from 2020 will be tax-free for households with a combined income of less than $150,000 .
That applies to taxpayers filing joint returns, as head of household, or with single status. But the $10,200 exclusion applies separately to each spouse.
If you filed your income taxes before ARPA passed, the Internal Revenue Service will refund any overpayment you may have made related to unemployment benefits.
The IRS says taxpayers will not have to amend their returns or do anything else in order to get the proper adjustment, but stay on top of that. Any refunds should start appearing in May 2021.
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Lawsuit Aims To Reinstate $300 Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefits
FLORIDA People who lost their federal unemployment benefits may have a chance to get them back. A lawsuit being filed accuses the state of taking them away illegally.
If successful that means hundreds of thousands of people still not working could get a sizable check coming their way.
The attorneys filing the lawsuit claim Florida broke its own statutory law, which says the state will accept all federal unemployment funds. The state quit accepting the federal funds on June 26th.
The woman taking on the state wants them reinstated with back pay.
If I wouldnt have taken this final step its almost like saying that almost everything we did and fought for was worthless, said Vanessa Brito.
Brito has become an unemployment advocate and now wants the state ordered to pay the $300 weekly federal benefits.
Shes not confident that if the state does rule in her favor that the state Department of Economic Opportunity would be able to disburse the funds successfully without a glitch.
If a judge in a court rules in our favorwe know that there is going to be a glitch when implementing those retroactive payments, Brito said.
Brito has been questioned about the need for a Go Fund Me account in order to pay for the lawsuit.
Those attorney fees and court fees need to be paid somehow and I have put out so much of my own money. If I had it I would give it and I would not have put up a Go Fund Me, Brito said.
Boosted Benefits Could Roll Out In August
Following the signing of the memorandum, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said jobless benefits could be available “immediately,” The Washington Post reports meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN that payments could take a couple of weeks.
New guidance from FEMA estimates payments will take at least three weeks from August 8 to start rolling out.
States and territories must formally apply for the aid and outline how they plan to administer payments. After they’re approved, funding will be available “within one business day of receipt of the fully executed grant award,”the guidance says. FEMA notes that after the memorandum was signed August 8, they approved the first round of states to receive aid by August 14.
How long it will take for residents to actually receive extra payments will depend on how quickly states can reprogram their unemployment insurance systems to administer the funds. States that immediately got to work to reconfigure their systems on August 8 could start administering extra payments by August 29, according to the Department of Labor.
And Arizona residents could see the boost as soon as this week.
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Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Expired On Labor Day Could They Be Renewed
Millions of Americans lost jobless benefits this month. Some lawmakers are proposing that aid be reinstated in an upcoming spending package. Here’s the latest.
Laura Michelle Davis
Laura is a professional nitpicker and good-humored troubleshooter who has worked as an English teacher, Spanish medical interpreter, copy editor and proofreader. She is a fearless but flexible defender of both grammar and weightlifting, and firmly believes that technology should serve the people. Her first computer was a Macintosh Plus.
After the pandemic-related expansion of unemployment insurance ended on Sept. 6, roughly 7.5 million people lost their benefits entirely, with millions more losing the $300 weekly bonus checks. The temporary federal benefits — which included coverage for those normally ineligible for jobless aid, like gig workers and the long-term unemployed — were in place since spring 2020 to help those who lost income from COVID-19 restrictions or layoffs.
This week, a group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called to reform the unemployment system in the coming $3.5 trillion House spending plan. In a , they noted that the country now “denies life-saving resources to over two-thirds” of those without jobs, as aid now covers “less than half of lost wages.” They also noted that 90% of unemployed workers and “especially Black and Brown communities” have been left with no benefits at all.
Are You Available And Actively Searching For Work
To maintain your eligibility for unemployment compensation, you must be able to work, available to accept a job, and looking for work. If you are offered a suitable position, you must accept it. You must also keep a written record of your work search contacts, which the agency may ask you to submit at any time.
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Who Lost Federal Unemployment Benefits On Labor Day
At the very start of the pandemic, the March 2020 CARES Act established temporary federal unemployment aid programs, and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021 extended those benefits to Labor Day. Here’s who was affected by the programs’ expiration, according to a detailed analysis of Labor Department data by the Century Foundation.
More than 3 million additional people lost Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the weekly bonus — initially $600, then $300 — that helped out-of-work Americans supplement benefits and recover some lost wages. If you’re still eligible to collect state unemployment insurance , you’ll continue to receive some compensation after the cutoff. But the amount will be lower without the weekly $300 bonus.
Some 3.3 million people lost all their Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, which extended aid to those who had already exhausted their state’s benefits period . This category includes workers who would have no longer been eligible to receive unemployment because they passed their state’s benefit window. The program provided up to 53 weeks of additional aid for those who had exceeded state allowances.
That’s not the full picture of everyone affected by unemployment. Reported jobless rates generally don’t account for those who have left the labor force entirely and are no longer counted as looking for work, such as the long-term unemployed.
Expiration Of Federal Unemployment And Pandemic Benefits
As of September 5, 2021, several federal unemployment benefit programs have expired across the country, per federal law. The federal benefit programs that have expired include:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
- Extended Benefits
- $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
- $100 Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation
Unemployment Insurance benefits will continue to be paid to eligible claimants. To be considered eligible for UI after September 5, 2021, a claimant must be unemployed AND be in the first 26 weeks of benefits. Claimants can find their effective days remaining in their online Payment History. Because FPUC has expired, any weeks a claimant is eligible to receive UI benefits after September 5, 2021 will no longer include the additional $300 in FPUC.
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Duration Of Benefits May Be Extended
When the state unemployment rate increases above 5 percent, Florida extends the duration of benefits beyond the standard 12 weeks.
An additional week is added for every 0.5 percent increase to the unemployment rate above 5 percent. The maximum possible extension is 23 weeks. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the Florida unemployment rate for February was 2.8 percent.
Which Unemployment Aid Was Extended
The rescue package extended benefits for two critical unemployment programs. The first is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created to provide unemployment benefits to gig workers and others typically not eligible.
The second is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extended the typical 26 weeks of state benefits by an extra 13 weeks under the CARES Act, passed in March.
Both programs will now last at least an additional 11 weeks, from Dec. 27 through March 14, which means the 39-week benefit limit for PEUC has been increased to 50 weeks. Those receiving unemployment under PUA or PEUC on March 14 who havent exhausted their 50 weeks can continue to claim benefits until April 5.
Some states may take longer to reinstate PUA and PEUC, but recipients should still get their money retroactively, experts say.
When will I get the $300 bonus?
How long it will take for jobless workers to receive the funds will be left to state unemployment departments. The additional $300 per week will start reaching workers by mid-January in most states, experts estimate.
Is There A New Verification Process For Pua Applications
Jobless Americans who were receiving PUA benefits must verify their eligibility for the program this year.
Under an anti-fraud provision in the relief package, those currently getting PUA benefits will have 90 days to submit documents proving their continuing eligibility for the program. Those that dont could be at risk of having to pay back any funds they receive after the bills enactment in December.
Its unclear what documentation will be sufficient to satisfy the requirement, experts say.
People who apply for PUA for the first time starting Jan. 31 will have 21 days to submit their verification documents, according to CNBC.