JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A group of everyday Floridians have dubbed themselves the "Unemployment Dream Team" as they have helped about 20,000 unemployed Floridians fix their claims.
“All of the ones on our team, we all have different specialties,” said Laura Tweed, one of the members.
Tweed is a 10-99 contractor and became unemployed in March. She cleared up issues with her claim but continued to help claimants with their problems even as she went back to her full-time job.
Within the team, Tweed specializes in helping self-employed workers, veterans and those who are suicidal.
Member Vanessa Brito is a political strategist. She has worked on many campaigns for both republicans and democrats. Because of her experience, she has a lot of contacts who could help escalate claims.
“I have people I can go to and say ‘hey, remember when I helped you win this race? Now I need your help,’” Brito said.
Brito has turned down job opportunities to work full-time with claimants. She’s currently living off her savings and is contemplating cutting into her 401-K to pay someone to help her answer messages.
Member Tami Bohm analyzes claims. Bohm will tell you where your claim is having issues and knows what to tell agents to get it fixed.
“I make letters for people,” Bohm said. “No fluff, here’s what’s wrong with my claim.”
These ladies estimate that they have helped about 20,000 claimants collectively.
Their work has snowballed. When one claimant tells them what worked or who contacted them from the Department of Economic Opportunity, they keep it in their back pocket for the next claimant with a problem.
“We know who the adjudicators are now, we know who is doing appeals now, we know who is doing backdating,” Bohm said.
That is how the team came up with their most successful tool: documents full of hundreds of DEO agent emails that have helped their claimants.
Here are the lists the ladies have collected over the last few months:
- DEO Supervisors: For complicated claimant issues
- DEO Specialists, their Supervisors, and Deputies: For if a claimant was denied due to being unsure of how to respond to questions
- DEO Benefit Specialists and their Supervisors: For missing payments/back pay
- DEO Employment Security Representatives: Unlock accounts
- DEO Employment Program Specialists
- DEO Employee (all) Telephone Directory with Extensions by City/Region
“None of us could do this on our own,” Tweed said. “It has taken a joint effort to make this successful.”
These ladies have no stake in the game. They are not getting paid and they are not running for office. Their only reward is a sense of fulfillment.
“This is not a political issue," Brito said. "It is not a democrat or republican issue, this is an issue of humanity.”