Denied unemployment benefits? Here’s what you should do

Denied unemployment benefits? Here’s what you should do
As some businesses in Florida look to reopen, many unemployed South Florida workers are still on the sidelines.

As some businesses in Florida look to reopen, many unemployed South Florida workers are still on the sidelines.

So, what's next, and what can they do, especially if they have been rejected for benefits?

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Robert Ferrarie, a laid-off hotel worker in Boca Raton, is losing faith in Florida’s unemployment system.

“I just don’t know if they’ll ever pay anybody,” said Ferrarie.

He said he was rejected by the state’s online system then resorted to filing an appeal and reapplying.

“I went back to the CONNECT site, and it said I did not work for my employer," said Ferrarie.

West Palm Beach labor attorney Arthur Schofield said the best advice is patience, and if you are denied, file an appeal.

“If you don’t file the appeal, you’re not going to be able to get your benefits," said Schofield. “I’ve never seen the rate of denials, the delay in the system, the confusion with the process."

He says mounting rejections of unemployment benefits in Florida is likely going to delay appeals hearings for the unemployed.

“On a good day, when an appeal was filed, we would get a date for an appeal, a telephone hearing within two maybe three months. With all the appeals coming in now, and a shortage of staff, I anticipate that could be anywhere from four, five, six months," said Schofield.

Typically, appeals for unemployment are held over the phone and take only a few minutes.

Schofield said his office has seen increased inquiries from unemployed people seeking answers from a frustrating system.

“I’ve never seen the rate of denials, the delay in the system, the confusion with the process,” Schofield said.

As for gig workers and the self-employed, Schofield said they should reapply.

“The door has opened up for them when this initially occurred, and the filings were taking place those folks weren’t eligible, but now they are deemed eligible, so they do need to reapply,” Schofield said.

As for reopening businesses, there are also strict rules for those who have been lucky enough to get state unemployment benefits.

“If the employer invites the employee back and the employee turns down the income from the paycheck, they’ve turned down viable employment and unemployment doesn’t allow for that,” Schofield said.

Scripps Only Content 2020