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Floridians eligible for the additional $300 weekly benefits under the federal “lost wages” program should expect their money to arrive this week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday. The state has been authorized for three weeks of benefits, but more weeks could become available, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
Anyone who’s currently eligible will automatically receive their three weeks of benefits, at $300 each, according to a DeSantis administration news release. Floridians do not need to reapply for the benefits.
The announcement said the benefits would be retroactive to August 1. The DEO will pay out for weeks ending that day, August 8 and August 15. The additional benefits cover the weeks ending August 1, August 8 and August 15, the three weeks following the cancellation of Congress’ $600 weekly federal pandemic benefits.
Florida currently has only been approved for three weeks of Loss Wages Assistance (LWA), but it can apply by the week until the funding runs out. Estimates show there’s enough funding to likely last states a couple more weeks.
Eligible Floridians who are currently receiving unemployment will receive their “lost wages” benefits the same way they receive their weekly benefits, according to the governor’s news release. However, a paper check will be issued if the payment method selected is a debit card. The Department of Economic Opportunity highly recommends that recipients select direct deposit as their means of receiving benefits to ensure payments are received as quickly as possible.
There are certain criteria that must be met by the claimant in order to be paid these unemployment benefits.
The claimant must be currently receiving at least $100 weekly in an approved Reemployment Assistance program in order to qualify. Claimants must also be able to certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed because of COVID-19. Eligible Floridians will receive the additional dollars without any secondary applications, just like when the COVID-19 stimulus checks were sent out in April.
On Wednesday, Florida’s largest labor union called on lawmakers to expand unemployment benefits despite reluctance from some who argue jobs have returned. National pandemic unemployment dropped to its lowest point in August but some states and industries still have a long way to go.
Tampa Bay’s News Channel 8 (8 On Your Side) obtained data from Indeed.com that shows Florida job postings are down more than 17 percent compared to this time last year. May saw the peak posting slash, with roughly half as many jobs listed compared to May 2019.
DEO data shows there are about 2.1 million Floridians now eligible for state reemployment assistance, federal pandemic emergency unemployment assistance or federal pandemic unemployment assistance, nearly 2 million of whom have been paid.
Out of those numbers, another 672,339 people are not eligible for state or federal reemployment assistance.
$15.8 billion has been paid out to people who’ve filed unemployment claims since the beginning of the pandemic in Florida. Out of that figure, $10.4 billion came from federal pandemic unemployment compensation or LWA. Another $656.7 million has come from federal pandemic unemployment assistance and $755.4 million has been drawn from federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.