Unemployment Benefits in Florida
Labor & Employment Law
Florida Unemployment Benefits
If you lost your job, you may be entitled to unemployment compensation under Florida law. Florida unemployment benefits are handled by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
Am I eligible for unemployment?
If you lose your job, you are entitled to unemployment benefits in Florida so long as:
- You were not terminated for misconduct;
- You did not voluntarily quit your job;
- You meet minimum earnings requirements as set by the DEO during the base period (the first four quarters of the last five quarters before benefits start); and
- You are ready, willing and able to work—meaning physically capable of performing job duties and actively seeking work and ready to accept suitable work.
Misconduct is defined very narrowly—meaning many terminable offenses do not rise to the level of misconduct to lose benefits. Misconduct has been held to include things like chronic absenteeism, violation of a company policy, failing a drug test, etcetera.
How do I apply for unemployment in Florida?
To initiate an unemployment claim, you must complete an application by one of three methods:
- File online at FloridaJobs.org.
- Mail in a paper copy of the completed application to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity at Post Office Box 5350, Tallahassee, Florida 32314-5350.
- Go to a CareerSource center for assistance with submitting an application for benefits.
How much does unemployment pay?
It depends. A claimant can receive as little as $32 per week to a maximum of $275 per week, before any deductions for taxes. Your unemployment benefits amount is determined by your earnings over the first four quarters of the last five completed quarters immediately preceding your application. For example, for April 1, 2021, the DEO uses your earnings from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 to determine the amount of your benefits.
When will I start receiving unemployment checks?
After filing a claim for unemployment benefits, you have to wait at least one week before any benefits are paid. This is called the “waiting week”. Realistically, it may take a few weeks for the benefits to start after the waiting week, assuming your application is approved. To continue receiving your unemployment, you will have to claim your weeks of unemployment before each posted deadline. If you are late in claiming your weeks, you could lose your unemployment benefits.
How will I receive my unemployment payments?
In Florida, claimants have two options:
- Direct deposit directly into a bank account; or
- Loaded on to a debit card.
To learn more about these options, check out the DEO’s Guide for Reemployment Assistance Payment Method Options.
How long can I collect unemployment?
Claimants can receive unemployment benefits anywhere from 12 to 23 weeks. The exact duration is determined by the current unemployment rate.
Do I have to look for work while collecting unemployment in Florida?
Yes. You are required to apply for three or five jobs per week (depending on where you live in Florida) as well as register with Employ Florida. There are exemptions from this requirement, however, they will not apply to most claimants. If you refuse suitable work while claiming unemployment benefits, you could also jeopardize your unemployment benefits.
My unemployment application was denied. Can I appeal?
If the DEO denies your claim for unemployment benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision within 20 calendar days of the date of the determination notice by the DEO.
Appeals can be submitted online, by e-mail, by mail or by facsimile. Once you file the appeal, you will be required to attend a telephonic hearing where you provide evidence to demonstrate why you are entitled to unemployment benefits under Florida law. The hearing is important as it is the only way you get to present evidence to fight for your benefits. You are permitted to subpoena witnesses for attendance at the hearing and also subpoena records from the employer which may be important to your appeal.
You will receive notice of the decision on your appeal by mail and/or electronically in the DEO’s CONNECT system if you are registered.
If you disagree with the DEO Appeal Referee’s (hearing officer’s) decision, then you can file an appeal with the Florida Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission within 20 days of the date of the DEO’s determination. There is no hearing before the Commission. Instead, the Commission will review the file, which should contain all of the documents and witness testimony you presented at the hearing, and then make a written determination. You can also submit a written brief in support of your appeal.
If you disagree with the Commission’s decision, you can appeal it further by filing a complaint in the appropriate Florida District Court of Appeal.
How do I contact Florida’s DEO?
Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission
1211 Governors Square Boulevard, Suite 300
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
850.488.2123 – Fax
More information regarding unemployment benefits is available here.