Florida Unemployment Guide
Florida’s unemployment insurance program is called Reemployment Assistance. If you lost your job, were put on furlough or had your hours cut or reduced to zero through no fault of your own, you can apply online to receive monetary assistance and get help finding work.
Changes to Florida Unemployment Due to COVID-19
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida has changed some rules of the Reemployment Assistance program. Benefits are now available to self-employed workers and independent contractors. And the governor has waived several program requirements, including the mandatory waiting week for your first payment.
The state has also launched a new mobile-friendly website that is better prepared to handle the high volume of unemployment applications.
Florida Reemployment Assistance
The state of Florida provides temporary, partial income replacement benefits and job assistance resources to unemployed workers who qualify for the program. Learn more about applying for unemployment benefits, including eligibility requirements, benefit payment amounts, and how to apply.
Florida Unemployment Benefits Eligibility
To qualify for Florida unemployment benefits, you must meet several criteria:
- You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. You won’t qualify if you quit for personal reasons or were terminated for malicious misconduct. Poor job performance does not disqualify you.
- You must be totally or partially unemployed. Partially unemployed means your hours were reduced or you’re a part-time worker who can’t find additional work.
- You must have earned at least $3,400 before taxes in what is called the "base period," which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
- You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. This includes being able to get to a job and have child care if necessary.
The best way to find out if you are eligible is to apply online. If you need help applying or determining your eligibility, contact your local CareerSource Florida center.
Can Furloughed Workers Receive Unemployment Benefits?
Yes. Furloughed workers — those put on mandatory unpaid leave — are encouraged to apply for Florida unemployment benefits. If your hours were reduced or you were put on a zero-hour schedule, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Even if your employer says you won’t qualify, you should apply anyways. Eligibility is based on your earnings in a prior week, not the number of hours you worked. Once you apply for benefits, the Reemployment Assistance team will review your information and determine your eligibility.
Submitting a Claim
Find out how to file a Florida unemployment claim online.
Prepare for Your Claim
To apply for unemployment benefits, you will need:
- Your Social Security number
- Your driver's license or state ID number
- Information on your employment over the past 18 months, including:
- Employer names, addresses, and phone numbers
- Dates of first and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes) during employment periods
- Reason for separation
- FEIN number (on your W2 or 1099 tax forms)
- If you don’t have a FEIN, use employer details from paystub
Some workers will need to provide additional information:
- Non-U.S. citizens must provide their Alien Registration Number or work authorization form
- Military employees must provide their DD-214 Member copy 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8
- Federal employees must provide SF 8 or SF 50
- Union members must provide the union’s name, hall number and phone number
If you want to use direct deposit, you must provide your bank account number and routing number. You can also request a Reemployment Assistance debit card.
File Your Florida Unemployment Claim
Within one week of becoming unemployed, you should begin the claims process to receive your Reemployment Assistance benefits. The date your application is finished determines when you will begin receiving benefits. Claims always begin with the Sunday prior to the completion of the application. For example, an application completed on Wednesday will take effect on the Sunday before that Wednesday.
All claims in Florida must be completed online. The process should take approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.
If you need assistance filing your claim, you can:
- Read the Reemployment Assistance FAQs
- Email a Reemployment Assistance agent
- Call the Reemployment Assistance Hotline: 1-800-204-2418
Those who need assistance because of disabilities, legal reasons, computer illiteracy or language barriers should call 1-800-681-8102.
Once your claim is filed, you will receive a confirmation notice that your claim has been received. You must request benefit payment no later than seven days from your scheduled report date. If your claim is accepted, it will take two to four weeks to receive your first payment. The week you file your claim is a "waiting week" during which no benefits are paid.
If you do not receive a confirmation notice, call the Claims Assistance Center toll free at 1-800-204-2418.
Initial Skills Review
Along with the confirmation that your claim has been received, you will receive instructions on the Initial Skills Review. This examination is mandatory. There is no pass or fail, and the answers given do not affect your claim or eligibility. CareerSource Florida uses the Initial Skills Review to help in your job search efforts.
How Much Will My Florida Unemployment Benefits Pay?
The weekly payment amount you receive during unemployment will vary from person to person. The only way to be sure of your benefit amount is to submit a claim.
The state determines your weekly benefit payments based on your previous earnings during employment. In 2020, you can receive a maximum of $275 per week for 12 weeks. You are entitled to a maximum benefit amount of $3,300.
You will continue to receive Reemployment Assistance weekly for up to 12 weeks. When you secure a job, the payments will stop. However, working part-time or temporarily does not necessarily end the benefits.
No benefit extension programs are available at this time. Once you receive 12 weeks of unemployment benefits or reach the maximum total benefit amount of $3,300, your Reemployment Assistance payments will end.
Additional Florida Unemployment Benefits
In addition to the Reemployment Assistance Program, there are other programs to help unemployed Floridians. These are different than unemployment benefits, and you need to apply for them separately. Eligibility for one benefit does not guarantee or prohibit eligibility for another.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income households cover heating and cooling costs. You can request assistance up to three times per year, but the program does not cover water, sewer or telephone services. The funds are paid directly to the energy company, not the household.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program is another federally funded program intended to help with home energy costs for low-income households. Instead of paying for energy costs directly, this program helps with the causes of high energy costs, helping households with insulation and ventilation needs, applying solar reflective coatings and installing solar screens, and repairing or replacing inefficient air conditioners and water heaters. Not every eligible applicant will receive assistance, but you should contact your local Weatherization office to see if you qualify.
Community Services Block Grant Program
The Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG) is designed to help members of low-income households be self-sufficient. The funds are distributed by local governments and non-profit agencies called Community Action Agencies.
These funds are used in a variety of ways to combat poverty, including:
- Providing emergency health, food, housing, day care, and transportation assistance
- Housing counseling
- Home finance management assistance
- Nutrition programs and federal surplus food distribution
- Community gardening projects
- Food banks
- Job counseling
- Placement and training services
- Homelessness prevention programs
To see if you are eligible for these benefits, contact your local CSBG provider.
Jobs in Florida
Help Finding a Job
The state of Florida provides free reemployment services and assistance to unemployed workers, recent graduates, and those entering the job market for the first time. To take advantage of these services, visit the Employ Florida website.
Claiming Your Benefits
Find out the steps to take to file your claim and start receiving payments.
Set up a Personal Identification Number (PIN)
When you fill out your application, you need to set up a PIN that you will use to log into the CONNECT system and claim your benefits. A PIN is not provided for you, so you must create one yourself.
Your PIN must be four digits long, and it cannot be:
- A repeating number (1111, 2222, 3333, etc.)
- Four sequential numbers (such as 1234)
- The last four digits of your Social Security number
Make sure your PIN is easy for you to remember but not easy to guess.
Requesting Benefit Payments
Every two weeks, you will use your PIN to log into your online Reemployment Assistance account and claim your unemployment benefits. You must request your benefits within seven days of your scheduled report date.
If the last digit of your Social Security number is even, you will claim your benefits on Mondays. If the last digit is odd, you will claim your benefits on Tuesdays. Once you receive your first payment, your scheduled report date may change.
If you are more than seven days late to claim your benefits, you may be denied payment. So make sure to always request your benefits on time.
Note All Work and Earnings
When you claim your benefits, you will have to report any work you have done in the weeks being claimed as well as the gross earnings (pre-tax wages). Even if you have not received payment from the employer yet, the earnings must still be reported over the time worked. Failure to report work and earnings is a crime and can carry severe penalties.
Keep Seeking Employment
You also need to report your efforts to find a new job when you claim your benefits. Florida unemployment laws require you to contact five potential employers each week in order to maintain benefits.
Throughout your job search, be sure to keep track of:
- Dates of contact
- Methods of contact (in person, phone, online, fax, etc.)
- Business names, telephone numbers, websites, and email addresses
- Results of your search
- Type of work sought
You can use the Employ Florida website to help you in your job hunt; it has thousands of jobs you can search and apply for.
Deal with Problems Immediately
If you should encounter any issues with your claim, your PIN, or your reception of benefits, do not delay in fixing them. Call the Claims Assistance hotline toll free at 1-800-204-2418 to speak with a program representative.
Appeal a Denial of Benefits
If you were denied unemployment benefits, you may file an appeal online. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity refers to those seeking benefits as Claimants. Claimants, employers, and authorized representatives may appeal a decision that was not made in their favor.
You must wait until after a determination is mailed or delivered to file an appeal. The determination will also contain instructions on how to file your appeal after a denial of benefits.