6.9M+ unemployment claims received by state, some say they’ve still never received benefits

More than 6.9 million unemployment claims have been received by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity between March 15, 2020 and July 11, 2021.

But some people are still facing challenges when it comes to requesting their unemployment benefits.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke to Louis Vassallo, a man who said he’s been working to certify his unemployment benefits, since May. Vassallo said he can’t reach anyone on the phone at the Department Of Economic Opportunity and their system isn’t working.

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He’s even had Representative Clay Yarborough’s office get involved, but he said nothing seems to help.

“The whole thing has just been a nightmare,” Vassallo said.

Vassallo said all he wants to do is be able to collect his unemployment benefits.

“You couldn’t certify, because after an hour or two in their waiting room, after you put in your credentials, it would just kick you out over and over again. That’s been happening for the last three weeks,” Vassallo explained.

At this point Vassallo said trying to solve the problem is taking up time he doesn’t have.

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“If you’re spending four hours every morning, which is basically what I’ve been doing, okay, it’s getting in the way of looking for real work,” Vassallo said.

He isn’t the only one. Action News Jax has received a number of e-mails about challenges people are facing with the unemployment system.

“It’s a big fight that shouldn’t be happening. The system should work and it doesn’t,” Vassallo said.

As of July 6, the Florida DEO said they’ve paid 2,398,000 people more than $30.5 billion.

Cole asked the DEO what’s being done to address the issues people were facing, but they said they would need each person’s claimant number to answer specifically.

The DEO was able to tell Action News Jax they experienced a high volume of traffic on “Connect” last week.

Now, the agency says the server capacity has now been increased over the weekend.