PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Jobless claims continue to rise across the state. But many Floridians still find themselves unable to file for unemployment benefits. The Department of Economic Opportunity released a new mobile application to hopefully bridge the gap.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began, filing for reemployment assistance has been a challenge; leaving many with unanswered questions and no source of income.
Emily Slaughter, of Panama City, says she filed for unemployment once the pandemic began. While she believes her application went through, she says there’s no way to know for sure. She has been unable to re-access her application for weeks now and she’s yet to hear back. Unfortunately, she’s not alone.
“From everyone I’ve spoken to, it’s been a nightmare. I mean I don’t really want to sit on the phone for 4 hours trying to get in touch with someone,” Slaughter said.
On Wednesday, the DEO introduced the new mobile-friendly application to try and help. This happened after their website, the primary way to file for unemployment, continued to crash.
But it’s important to note, the new app isn’t meant for everyone.
“If you have already submitted a claim and you just need to claim your weeks and add information in there, this is not for you,” said Brittany Rock, the Director of Communications for CareerSource Gulf Coast.
The mobile app is only for those who do not have current open reemployment assistance claims. Individuals claiming their weeks need to do so with the CONNECT site.
Those still struggling to apply online can also take to pen and paper. The DEO has brought back mail-in applications. Yet another effort to provide a different avenue for those struggling.
“We have made those available, we’ve printed them and they’re at all our locations and we’ve also put them in locations throughout the community,” Rock said.
The DEO warns that paper applications may take longer to process.
Many residents also report running into problems with being asked to ‘verify their identity’. But CareerSource says only those who forget their pin should be prompted with this step. If it’s your first time filing a claim, this should not be an issue.
“You have a pin for your account, so kind of like a password, if you forget your pin and try 3 times and get it wrong, you’ll get locked out of your account,” Rock said.
Rock says remembering your information is key to streamlining the process. She also encourages residents to not hold off on their job search. Many businesses are in need of employees. CareerSource will continue to offer assistance via telephone. They can be reached at: (850) 872-4340.
To access the mobile application from your smartphone, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication.
Paper applications must be mailed to: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, P.O. Box 5350, Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350.
If you need a paper application, you can find one at any of CareerSource’s locations, as well as at the following:
- Bay County Public Library
- Breakfast Point Academy
- Callaway Elementary School
- Cedar Grove Elementary School
- Deane Bozeman School
- Hutchison Beach Elementary School
- Lynn Haven Elementary School
- Merritt Brown Middle School
- Parker Elementary School
- Patronis Elementary School
- St. Andrew School
- Waller Elementary School
- West Bay Elementary School
- Carrabelle City Hall
- Ards Service Station
The following is needed to apply for reemployment assistance in Florida:
- Social Security number
- Driver’s License or State ID number
- Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer:
- Employer ID – FEIN number (this is found on your W2 or 1099 tax form), if available
- Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number
- First and last day of work
- Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) covering the last 18 months
- Reason for separation
If you are one of the following, make sure you have this additional information available:
- Not a U.S. Citizen: Alien Registration Number or other work authorization form
- Military employee: Copy of your DD-214 Member 4; If you do not have the Member 4, then a copy of your Member 2-7 may be used.
- Federal employee: SF-8 or SF-50
- Union member: Union name, hall number, and phone number