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Coronavirus: Your Unemployment Questions Answered

Sass Law Firm Blog: People in suits lined up in from of Job Center Reemployment Assistance, also commonly known as unemployment benefits, is to temporarily assist employees who are out of work through no fault of their own. In general terms, this means that an employee is not terminated for misconduct (considered a conscious disregard for the employer’s interests) or did not resign.

Update: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Office of Reemployment Assistance prepared a resource list for information and to answer all your unemployment and CARES Act questions.  Check it out here.

I have not been terminated, but was sent home with pay due to COVID-19; can I get unemployment?

If your employer sends you home or you take leave related to COVID-19 and still receive pay or paid leave from your employer, then generally you are NOT entitled to benefits during any time you are receiving such paid leave.

If I am temporarily laid off from my job because of COVID-19, am I entitled to unemployment benefits?

Yes, generally. If you are temporarily laid off from your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits so long as you are available and able to accept work from your employer when requested. You are not required to look for other work during a temporary layoff in order to receive benefits.

Am I disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, if was forced to quit because I am sick with or have symptoms of COVID-19?

An employee who leaves their job due to illness is typically considered as having good cause to quit employment and will still be entitled to receive unemployment. However, even though it may be good cause to quit, the employee will still be required to certify that they are available and ready to work–which would include working remotely and/or from home. If an employee is unable to do any job or work at all (even remotely) because of the illness, then the employee will not be eligible for benefits because they are not available and ready to work.

What if I have to quit so I can take care of my family member who has COVID-19, am I still eligible?

An employee may still be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for resigning if they have to care for someone who has the illness. However, the ultimate decision depends on the circumstances of the case and is decided by the Reemployment Assistance adjudicators.

How long am I entitled to receive unemployment benefits?

Presently, an eligible claimant is entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unemployment benefits with a maximum payment of up to $275 per week—or a gross total of $3,300 over 12 weeks.

Where do I apply for unemployment benefits?

Claimants can apply by clicking here and fill out the online application through CONNECT.

After I apply, if I’m qualified, how soon do I receive my benefits?

As of now, claimants are required to wait a one-week waiting period before receiving any benefits. Thus, it is important not to delay filing your claim. After you are approved and you have finished the waiting period, you should start to receive your benefits by either direct deposit or a debit card. Payments typically take 1-2 business days to arrive after they are processed, and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) indicates that the debit cards take 7-10 business days to be mailed.

Unfortunately, it is known how long it will take to process a claim because of the volume of calls to the DEO, but a claimant can always check the system through CONNECT, or try to reach the DEO office.

Do I still have to claim my weeks while I am receiving unemployment benefits?

Yes. Claimants are still required to claim their weeks to receive their unemployment and certify that they are available and ready to work. In addition, claimants normally would have to perform work search efforts of 3-5 jobs per week (depending on your city/county population) and certify that they have searched for those jobs. However, on March 20, 2020, the DEO retroactively waived the work search and online work registration requirements from March 15, 2020 through May 2, 2020. Thus, claimants will not be required to meet the strict work search requirements so long as the claimant remains available and ready to work.

I was denied unemployment, can I appeal?

Yes. If you are denied unemployment benefits, you will be given a written decision and given 20 calendar days from the date the notice to file appeal the denial through the DEO’s CONNECT system. A telephonic hearing will be set, and you and your employer participate in a hearing to determine whether you are qualified for unemployment.

This is a difficult time for many who are unemployed.  If you still have questions, we encourage you not to delay in consulting an experienced employment attorney.