State responds to our questions about unemployment fiasco - FOX 13 News

State responds to our questions about unemployment fiasco

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Q: One Prior statement from DEO (from this month) placed the backlog of cases at 41,000, while another placed it At 60,000. Why such a broad range, and what is the 'current' backlog?

A: On January 15, DEO presented information before a Florida Senate committee detailing that approximately 60,000 individuals' continued and initial claims were held in adjudication at that time. Currently, DEO has been informed by Deloitte that there are approximately 41,000 individuals with initial and continued claims in adjudication awaiting a determination. It is important to note that the reporting function of the system is still not reporting consistent and accurate data and all of these figures have been presented to DEO by Deloitte so this is the best information we have available at this time.

Q: Why did DEO agree to pay 11,000 claims 12 days ago, but then changed course and only paid around 4,900? Did DEO require or not require federal authorization to release the past due benefits?

A: On Saturday, January 18, DEO announced plans to move forward in temporarily issuing benefit payment to individuals whose continuing claims have been on hold for adjudication for more than seven days. Florida has never before taken this course of action and, to the best of DEO's knowledge, no other state regularly pays claims in this manner, even for claimants waiting longer than seven days. Significant uncertainty and debate surrounded this decision, such that as late as January 8, USDOL sent DEO an email stating that it was "fully aware that there may not be room" to "pay continued claims without doing adjudications first." After consulting with USDOL, both agencies mutually decided that such a step was permissible and warranted.

· DEO was informed by Deloitte that approximately 10,000 claimants would fall into the category of those with a continued claim on hold for adjudication for more than seven days.

· After programming the system, it was discovered that approximately half of this population of claimants were ineligible because they reported earnings in their claim week that exceeded the threshold for benefit payment or they had a reemployment assistance overpayment owed to the state. These claimants will receive a notice of determination with information on legal rights and appeals process.

· Payment has been issued for the approximately 4,900 eligible individuals. These payments began arriving to claimants on January 29.

Q: What is the deadline for paying people whose claims have been held up due to technical issues? When will those last payments go out?

A: Since the launch of CONNECT, DEO's main focus has been on helping claimants experiencing delays and on getting the system fixed. DEO is committed to paying every single legitimate claim and making claimants whole.

Q: How much has the extra staffing at DEO (to deal with these ongoing technical issue) cot state taxpayers?

A: The additional 250 adjudicators and 80 call center agents who will be added to current staff levels in the coming months will cost less than $165,000 per week. DEO already has sufficient federal funding to support the increased level of staffing for the reemployment assistance program.

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