Jobless Floridians told they owe state money, in latest unemployment system glitch

A new day, a new battle for people dealing with Florida’s troubled unemployment system. 

“Logged-in Monday night, just before they go down at 8 o’clock. It showed that I had $1,350 that I owed the state in back pay which is incorrect,” Paul Santiago said.  “It’s frustrating.”

Vanessa Brito is a community activist.  She’s been helping thousands of folks with their issues with the state’s website for months. 

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“I woke up to a ton of claimants who had reached out to me telling me that they were signed in to claim their weeks and couldn’t.  They’re locked out now because their accounts have gone into overpayment status,” Brito said. 

She says the vast majority of the people she has spoken with do not owe the state a dime and many of those have been fighting a similar since day one. 

“Most of these folks are PUAs [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients], which means they’re self-employed or independent contractors, 10 to 99 employees, basically who were finally backdated or received a wager re-determination," Brito explained, "which means you know they went from the initial $125 per week and then it was adjusted to what they were actually qualified for.”

RELATED: With fewer layoffs, Florida unemployment claims dropped last week

For most, one problem was just fixed, then that revealed another problem for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

“The system is still functioning on initial eligibility for these claimants instead of the adjusted amount. So, it’s asking them to pay back what DEO has already acknowledged is owed to them,” Brito said. 

The DEO acknowledged that accounts are being flagged for “overpayment,” causing accounts to be frozen.  Brito is advising those who encounter this issue speak with a supervisor with Florida DEO.  She said the majority of folks she’s talking to don’t owe a dime and that’s the only way they’re getting this debacle cleared up. 

“It’s almost taking 6 steps forward and 7 steps back,” Brito said.

FOX 35 News reached out to the DEO to ask about this latest glitch.  We received a generic reply back which read, “We have received your request and will respond as quickly as we can.”


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