A Guide to Unemployment and the CARES Act:
If you have lost your job, were furloughed, are partially unemployed, or cannot perform your job for a reason due to COVID-19, you need to file for unemployment as soon as possible through the Florida Department of Economic Development (DEO).
There are 2 ways to currently receive unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Traditional unemployment through the state of Florida known as Reemployment Assistance (RA)
Federal assistance created through the CARES Act called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
In order to qualify for PUA you cannot be eligible for RA. Florida is currently requiring you to apply for RA, be denied, and then you will be allowed to apply for PUA.
Reemployment Assistance (RA)
To qualify for RA you MUST meet all of the below:
You lost your job through no fault of your own
If you quit or were terminated for misconduct, you will not qualify
You are totally or partially unemployed
You must be able to work, available to work, and actively be seeking employment
You meet the minimum wage requirements.
This will help you understand what the DEO considers eligible minimum wages:
Minimum wage requirements:
You must have earned a minimum of $3,400 in the base period of your claim
Base period = "the earliest 4 of the 5 complete calendar quarters before you filed your claim." Translation: this is the first 12 months out of the last 15 months you have worked
Calendar quarters =
January 1 - March 31
April 1 - July 31
August 1 - October 31
November 1 - December 31
You must have been paid wages in at least 2 of the 4 quarters
Your total wages for the base period must be 1.5x the amount of the wages you made in the quarter you made the most money.
Here is an example showing all the rules above:
If you filed unemployment in April, the state will look at your wages from January 2019-December 2019. (This becomes your base period)
If you made $5,000 in one quarter during this time, you would need to make at least $7,500 for the total 12 months. If you made $10,000 for one quarter during this time, you would need to make $15,000 for the total 12 months, etc.
This calculator can be used to assist, but this does not guarantee eligibility. Only DEO can make that decision. http://www.florida-unemployment.org/your-benefits
**Traditional RA does not apply to gig workers, independent contractors, and self-employed persons.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
You may qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if:
• You are not normally eligible for state unemployment benefits, such as gig workers, independent contractors, and unemployed persons
• You have applied for state insurance and have been denied
• You are unemployed or partially employed
• You are not able and not available to work for one of the following reasons:
You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
Someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
You are providing care for a family member or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
A child or other person you are caring for is unable to attend school or another facility because it is closed due to COVID-19, and that facility is necessary for you to work
You are unable to reach your place of employment because of quarantine due to COVID-19
You were scheduled to start employment but do not have the job or cannot reach the job due to COVID-19
You have become the major financial supporter or main breadwinner because the previous head of household died due to COVID-19
You had to quit your job due to COVID-19
Your place of employment is closed due to COVID-19
What happens after you apply for unemployment in CONNECT:
If you are found eligible for RA you will receive your regular benefit (up to $275 weekly for 12 weeks) + an extra $600 weekly up until July 25, 2020.
If you are found ineligible for RA , you will be asked to fill out a PUA application.
If you are found eligible for PUA:
The maximum amount of benefit is up to $275 weekly for up to 39 weeks + an extra $600 weekly up until July 25, 2020.
Proof of wages is necessary
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
If you have run out of your 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, the CARES Act allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment of your determined unemployment rate (up to $275 weekly) + $600 weekly. The additional $600 weekly payment ends July 25, 2020; however the weekly PEUC payments can be paid out until December 26, 2020. You can now begin applying for PEUC in CONNECT. In order to be eligible, your RA claim must have expired after July 1, 2019 or your 12 weeks must have been used up, and you must still be unemployed. You must first apply for RA. When it is determined that you have exhausted your RA then you will be able to apply for PEUC. You must continue to claim your benefits every two weeks once you begin receiving PEUC.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), the extra $600 weekly unemployment payment, is set to expire for Floridians on July 25th. After this week the maximum benefit you can receive for unemployment will go back to $275 weekly. Congress is currently working on an additional stimulus bill, but nothing is expected to pass until the first week of August. While it is likely there will be additional funds aimed at unemployment there is no guarantee that the $600 weekly will continue. We will update this page as soon as additional information is released.
The CARES Act extra benefits did not begin until March 29, 2020
If you want to back date a PUA application to before April 5, 2020 you will have to follow the instructions above and submit a new application
If you were denied RA and believe the the DEO made an incorrect decision, you will need to submit an appeal within 20 calendar days of the DEO's determination of ineligibility. The Notice of Appeal form can be found here, but DEO prefers applicants appeal through their CONNECT account. http://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/unemployment/ra-forms/appeals/deo_a100(e).pdf?sfvrsn=86657fb0_2