If you lost your job because of the coronavirus pandemic, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. If you need assistance applying or accessing benefits, please contact your local state representative. For additional assistance, please fill out this form.
What is unemployment insurance (UI)?
UI benefits are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and who meet other eligibility criteria of State law. To qualify in Florida:
- You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. You won’t qualify if you quit for personal reasons or were terminated for malicious misconduct. Poor job performance does not disqualify you.
- You must be totally or partially unemployed. Partially unemployed means your hours were reduced or you’re a part-time worker who can’t find additional work.
- You must have earned at least $3,400 before taxes in what is called the “base period,” which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
- You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. This includes being able to get to a job and have childcare if necessary.
The joint federal-state Unemployment Compensation (UC) program provides income support to eligible workers through the payment of UI benefits during a period of unemployment. In Florida in 2020, eligible individuals can receive benefits for 12 weeks.
How are benefits calculated?
UI eligibility is generally based on qualified wages and employment in covered work over a 12-month period prior to unemployment. Most state benefit formulas replace around half of an individual’s average weekly wage up to a weekly maximum, which varies by state, as does the method that states use to calculate monetary eligibility. Unemployment benefits can be paid for a maximum of 26 weeks in most cases.
What if someone is recently unemployed due to coronavirus?
In response to the coronavirus crisis, Congress has provided additional funding to expand unemployment benefits and cover more applicants beyond those who are traditionally covered. Through July 31, 2020, the federal government will provide a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 per week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. The FPUC would be paid in addition to and at the same time (but not necessarily in the same check) as regular state or federal UC benefits. The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program will provide an additional $600 per week per individual receiving unemployment benefits, on top of the base compensation amount provided by the State of Florida. For workers who exhaust regular benefits, all states are eligible to provide an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits. To receive these unemployment benefits, an individual must provide self- certification that they are otherwise able and available to work, but are unable to do so because of COVID-19.
Are self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy eligible?
Yes. While self-employed and gig economy workers do not ordinarily have coverage under the unemployment compensation system and so are not eligible for benefits, under the CARES Act, self-employed workers in Florida will receive PUA based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement on top of that benefit. Freelancers, independent contractors, part-time workers, and those with limited work histories are also eligible.
Are DREAMers eligible for expanded unemployment benefits?
DOL is expected to issue its guidance on what criteria will be used for the program and we should know soon. In Florida, DEO says immigrants will have access to unemployment benefits if they have “alien registration numbers or another work authorization form.”
Who is not eligible for the expanded unemployment benefits?
Individuals who are able to telework with pay, or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits are not covered. Additionally, individuals who do not have work authorization are not eligible
I’m already receiving unemployment benefits. Will I receive any help?
Yes. Even if you’re already receiving unemployment benefits for reasons unrelated to the coronavirus, your state-level benefits will still be extended by 13 weeks. You will also receive the extra $600 weekly benefit from the federal government.
How long will the expanded benefits be in place?
Expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance will be in effect until December 31, 2020. A $600 additional benefit will be added to unemployment compensation received from now until July 31, 2020.
How can I apply for unemployment benefits?
An individual can apply for unemployment compensation through the unemployment offices in the state where they worked.
To file a UI claim online in Florida here.
To file a UI claim by phone in Florida: 1-800-204-2418
You will apply through the state unemployment program, which will cover the
application for both the federal and state benefits. The payment will begin once the state has made the proper arrangements with the
Department of Labor to pay it. Florida has signed the agreement with DOL. The federal payment should come at the same time as the original payment, but it may not be in the same check.
To fill out a Florida EOC application, click here.