A Complete Guide on Florida Unemployment Benefits and How to File for Them

FT Contributor
An unemployed woman stretches at her computer desk, where she is searching for a job.
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If you suffer the loss of a job in Florida, you may be able to apply for unemployment benefits. You can apply for these benefits with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

In Florida, you may apply for unemployment if you have lost your job for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you were a victim of downsizing, you got fired for any reason other than misconduct, or you quit because of a specific problem, such as workplace harassment or a lack of necessary skills.

The goal of unemployment benefits is to help cover your cost of living while you find a new job and get back on your feet. Before you apply, you need to understand eligibility requirements and make sure that you have the required information to complete the application process.

You can get any additional information and apply online via the Department of Economic Opportunities online portal.

Florida Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

There are a few requirements that you must meet to be eligible for unemployment benefits in Florida. The state will weigh past earnings, the reason for the loss of your job, any current earnings you might have, and your ability and willingness to search for a new job while receiving benefits.

Past Earnings

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will look at your recent earnings during a specific “base” period to determine whether you meet eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits.

The base period is simply the first four of the preceding five complete calendar quarters before you file your application. If, for example, you filed your claim in January of 2020, your base period was the period from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.

In other words, you do not count the current quarter or the most recent quarter before the current quarter.

During the base period, you need to have met a few requirements.

  • You must have earned wages in at least two of the four base period quarters.
  • You must have made at least $3,400 during the entire base period.
  • The total wages earned in the base period should be at least 1.5 times the wages earned in the highest-paid quarter of the base period.

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

If you want to receive benefits in Florida, you need to have lost your job through no fault of your own.

When applying, you’ll describe the reason for your job loss. The state may confirm your account with your employer.

If you got laid off or let go because of company downsizing, outsourcing, or another economic reason, you usually qualify for unemployment benefits in Florida.

If you got fired for misconduct or breaking company rules, you do not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, if you got fired for a reason like not having the necessary skills to perform the job or getting replaced by another employee, you should still be able to collect benefits.

Generally, leaving your job makes you ineligible for unemployment benefits. In specific situations, however, where you may still be eligible even if you quit. For example, if the skills required for the job change, if you develop a condition that makes it difficult to do the job, or if your spouse gets transferred to another location, you may still be able to get unemployment benefits.

Totally or Partially Unemployed

To qualify for unemployment, you must be totally or partially unemployed. If your employer is paying vacation time, paid time off, or other benefits, you cannot apply for unemployment.

If you are partially employed and working less than full time, you may still be able to get some unemployment benefits in Florida.

You Must Be Able to Work

To be eligible (and remain eligible) for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and actively searching for work.

The unemployment office in Florida requires that you be ready to take any jobs and continue searching for work while you are receiving benefits.

You must contact at least five potential employers each week. Alternatively, you may meet with someone from CareerSource Florida to discuss your options.

How to File for Unemployment in Florida

To file for unemployment in Florida, you must log on to the Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT site.

  • When you prepare to apply for unemployment benefits, you need to collect your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity, a Social Security number, and information about past earnings.
  • You also need a bank routing number and account number if you want to receive your benefits via direct deposit.
  • After you submit your application, you wait to receive a Determination Notice and Wage Transcript. This document will tell you whether you are eligible for benefits.
  • The agency will then further determine whether you meet the other eligibility requirements and send you a second determination notice. If you are successful and your application passes, you will request payments every other week (bi-weekly basis) by phone or online and work to maintain your eligibility requirements.
  • If you cannot use a computer to file your claim, you can contact an unemployment office at 1(800) 681-8102 to get help with your application.

Appealing a Denial

If your claim gets denied, you have up to 20 days to file an appeal. You can lodge your appeal online through the CONNECT website or, if you cannot use the internet, by fax or mail.

Once the state gets your request, they will schedule a hearing and send you some information to help you prepare for the appeal. Hearings generally take place over the telephone.

After your hearing, you will receive a decision via mail. You can appeal the initial decision within 20 days by filing with the Unemployment Appeals Commission. Your final appeal option is the Florida District Court of Appeals.

When Will I Get Paid?

After you submit your application, you have to wait between three and four weeks for the state to process your application and make a decision. After this waiting period, you will receive your first payment.

As long as you perform the job-search requirements each week, you may reapply for benefits, which you can receive for 12 to 23 weeks.

Claim Your Weeks

Once you are eligible to start receiving payments, you can claim your weeks for as long as you remain eligible.

Claiming your weeks means meeting weekly requirements and requesting payment, either online or by phone. The state deposits your benefit amount electronically in a debit card or bank account.

To claim your weeks, you should be actively seeking a job. In Florida, you need to contact at least five potential employers every week. If you don’t meet this requirement, you can schedule a meeting with your local CareerSource representative. During this appointment, you need to discuss reemployment opportunities.

You should also keep a record of which potential employers you contacted. Unemployment officials may review these contacts to make sure you are seeking employment.

Finally, if you receive any income from temporary or part-time work, you need to report it to the unemployment office. Keep in mind that you may still be able to claim your weeks if you receive money from part-time employment.

Available Unemployment Benefits in Florida

In addition to providing monetary benefits, the state of Florida offers other types of support for unemployed people.

Benefits Available

The amount of benefits available varies from person to person. The amount of your payment gets calculated based on what you earned in the highest-earning quarter of your base period. However, your benefits can never be more than $275 per week. The maximum amount that you can receive during the period when you collect benefits cannot exceed $3,300.

Benefits Extensions

The State of Florida currently does not offer any benefits extension programs. The maximum unemployment period is 23 weeks, and the maximum amount that you can earn is $3,300.

If you receive the maximum weekly payment of $275, then the maximum unemployment period is 12 weeks, after which your unemployment benefits payments will end.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program that helps low-income households cover the costs of heating and cooling their homes. You may request assistance up to three times per year.

The benefits that you get through this program do not cover telephone, water, or sewer services. Unlike unemployment benefits, the funds from this program do not go to your bank account. Instead, the program pays the money directly to the energy company.

Weatherization Assistance Program

This federally funded program seeks to help low-income households reduce their energy costs by covering efficiency improvements, such as installation, ventilation, or appliance repairs.

For example, this program could help you with installing solar screens, repairing inefficient water heaters and air conditioning systems, and even replacing inefficient appliances.

Community Services Block Grant Program

The Community Services Block Grant program helps residents of low-income households take steps to become self-sufficient. The program includes a variety of services and support options, including:

  • Job counseling;
  • Housing counseling;
  • Financial management assistance;
  • Support of emergency housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and daycare;
  • Access to food banks;
  • Training and placement services.

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