JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Imagine waiting for months to get unemployment benefits to find out you are back to square one with nothing to show for your efforts.
It’s another plot twist in the unemployment maze process. From 'pending' to 'eligible' to 'not registered', one local mother says she’s either going to have to appeal or start all over but she’s still two months without pay.
Maggie Jensen and her husband are buying a house after having their first child six months ago. She’s a real estate recruiter for one of the largest real estate holding company and was laid off because of COVID-19.
They were relying on her income.
So she turned the Florida unemployment system for help on April 9. The online system wasn’t working for her so she applied with a paper application. A month later she received her pin number.
“I was all excited right like finally, I’m going to be able to move this along," Jensen said. "And then the maze continued."
Another month passed with no update. She called the helpline and was told to reapply online.
Then, she was deemed ineligible with no explanation as to why. As of June 17, her claim now says not registered.
After some research, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says not registered usually means your application is not complete, but Jensen says the system won’t let her fix anything.
“We pay for unemployment insurance and then when we don’t have our jobs, we don’t get a dime and we’re not told why," she said.
The one thing she can see on the online system is the answers from her paper application that were entered into the computer system. She says they're wrong and do not match what she submitted.
”It’s been a nightmare," Jensen said. She says this process has taught her compassion for others using this system, but she believes Florida politicians have failed the thousands of people who have received nothing.
Florida State Senator Audrey Gibson calls this unemployment system a debacle. She’s taking calls and sending individual information for claims directly to DEO to try to help them process, but she says you're pretty much stuck in the maze either way.
Senator Gibson says nobody is getting answers from DEO, not even her. She wants to system scrapped.
“I don’t think there’s a way to fix what we have. It is outdated," Sen. Gibson said. "It was intentionally designed to discourage people so the number of applications that could be processed has been very low.”
She says she’s going to take this issue on the road to the next legislative session.