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Florida Unemployment Guide

Florida Unemployment Benefits — Reemployment Assistance

The Florida government recently passed a law changing the name of the Unemployment Compensation Program to the Reemployment Assistance Program. This renaming of the benefits program is intended to emphasize the job search and reemployment services offered to Florida's unemployed. This has no effect on anyone either receiving or seeking to receive unemployment benefits. The program remains completely intact as it was; only the name has changed.

Am I Eligible?
Submitting a Claim
Unemployment Benefits
Additional Benefits and Assistance
Help Finding a Job
Claiming Weeks
Appealing Denied Benefits

Florida Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

In order to be eligible for Florida unemployment benefits, you must meet several criteria:

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own, so you must not have quit for personal reasons or been terminated for malicious misconduct (poor job performance does not disqualify you);
  • You must be totally or partially unemployed;
  • You must have a minimum amount of wages earned 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. If you want help determining your eligibility, contact your local One-Stop Career Center.

Find your nearest One-Stop Career Center: One-Stop Career Center Locations

Submitting a Claim

Prepare for Your Claim

Before beginning to file an unemployment claim, make sure to have several pieces of information at hand.

  • Social Security number
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers for each of your employers during the last 18 months
  • Dates worked and total wages from each employer during the last 18 months
  • Gross earnings (pre-tax wages) for the current week since 12:01 AM Sunday, your first week being claimed for unemployment
  • ID — either a driver's license, state identification, voter registration number, or any other type of ID that can be used to verify your identity
  • If a member of a labor union, the name and local number of your labor union hall
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, your Alien Registration Number and work permit expiration date
  • If you were in the military within the last two years, your DD-214 form
  • If you were a federal employee, your Form SF-50 or Form SF-8 and check stubs or W2 proof of earnings
  • To have your benefits directly deposited into your bank account, a check or deposit slip

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, and must be completed within 72 hours of beginning, or you will have to restart the process.

Submit your claim.

If you need assistance filing your claim or need access to a computer, visit your nearest One-Stop Career Center. Find your nearest One-Stop Career Center: One-Stop Career Center Locations

Once your claim is filed, you will receive a confirmation notice that your claim has been received. If your claim is accepted, it will take three to four weeks to receive your first payment. The first week-the week you filed 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. The Initial Skills Review is used by the One-Stop Career Center to help in your job search efforts.

Available Unemployment Benefits in Florida

Benefits Available

The benefits available to an individual vary based on criteria used to assign the benefits. The only way to be sure of your eligibility is to submit a claim.

The amount of benefits also varies per individual. A rough estimate of expected benefits would be half of an individual's previous full-time wages, up to a maximum of $275 per week.

Typically, Reemployment Assistance lasts up to 26 weeks or until employment is found. Once a new full-time job is found, there is no more need for reemployment assistance, so the benefits stop. However, working part-time or temporarily does not necessarily end the benefits.

Benefits Extensions

After the 26 weeks, extensions were available for up to another 33 weeks through the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. Previously, Florida residents were eligible for an additional 20 weeks of benefits through what is known as the Extended Benefits (EB), but that is no longer the case. EB is based on the state unemployment rate, and as of April, 2012, Florida's unemployment rate improved enough to no longer be eligible for that extension.

The EUC program is currently scheduled to end on December 29, 2012.

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 must be applied for separately. Eligibility for any one does not guarantee or prohibit eligibility for another.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is funded by the Federal Government to help pay for a month's worth of home energy costs for low-income households. The benefits can only be requested up to three times per year, and the funds are paid directly to the energy company, not the household.

Learn more about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

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 will.

Local Weatherization offices

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, and 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 including federal surplus food distribution, community gardening projects, food banks, job counseling, placement and training services, and homeless prevention programs. To see if you are eligible for these benefits, contact your local CSBG provider.

Local Community Services Block Grant Program

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 Marketplace website. Learn more about available reemployment services

Claiming Your Weeks

Set up a Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Once you've finished your application, you will need to set up a PIN in order to continue using the system to receive your benefits. A PIN is not provided for you, so you must create one yourself. It will be four digits long, and can be any combination of numbers except 0000. Make sure it is something easy for you to remember but not easy to guess.

Create your PIN:

Claim Your Weeks of Unemployment

Every two weeks, you will need to go on the internet and use your PIN to claim your weeks of unemployment. Within 18 days of filing your claim, an Information Notice will be sent to you with details on when you will need to claim weeks. You will have 14 days from your scheduled claim date to claim your weeks, but you MUST claim your weeks in order to receive your unemployment benefits. If you are late, you could be denied your benefits, so make sure to always keep the date for claiming handy.

Note All Work and Earnings

When you claim your weeks, 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

Also when you claim your weeks, you will have to report your efforts to find a new job. Florida unemployment laws require you to contact five potential employers each week in order to maintain benefits, so be sure to keep records of each one, along with the results of your contact, the website or email address used, the employer's telephone number, and the employer's name and address. You can use the Employ Florida Marketplace to help you in your job hunt; it has thousands of jobs you can search and apply for.

If you are unable to make five contacts in a week, you may be able to satisfy the requirement by meeting a representative at your local One-Stop Career Center. If you refuse an offer of suitable work, you are liable to lose your benefits.

Employ Florida Marketplace: Employ Florida Marketplace

Find your nearest One-Stop Career Center: One-Stop Career Center Locations

Claim your weeks of unemployment.

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 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. Any appeals must wait until after a determination is mailed or delivered to file an appeal. The determination will also contain instructions on how to file an appeal. File to appeal a denial of benefits