By
Cindy Huddleston
|
May 1, 2020

What COVID-19 Unemployment Help is Available to Floridians?

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

NOTE: Florida’s Reemployment Assistance (RA) program is plagued with barriers that have made it extremely difficult for Floridians who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 to apply for help. Sadly, these barriers are not unique to the pandemic. Even in the best of times, many Floridians have been shut out of the RA program due to technological obstacles. However, the historic influx of COVID-19 applications for Reemployment Assistance has greatly exacerbated the system’s problems and created a fence to keep workers out of the program at a time when Floridians need help the most.

Florida Policy Institute is cautiously optimistic that the Department of Economic Opportunity will have a solution to its flawed system soon. 

Floridians may be able to receive unemployment assistance under Florida’s RA program and the federal CARES Act. This blog post is about the unemployment-related assistance that Floridians are entitled to after they apply. Because everyone’s situation is unique, keep in mind that this information should be used as a rough rule of thumb. Also keep in mind that policies are in a state of constant flux and implementation details may change in the coming weeks. 

For Floridians Who Qualify for Regular Reemployment Assistance (RA):

Weeks 1- 12

Claimants will get regular RA (a maximum of $275 per week) plus an extra $600. The extra $600 begins for weeks claimed starting March 29,2020 and ends July 31, 2020.

The extra $600 is called Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) and is funded in full by the federal government.

Weeks 13- 26

After exhausting all regular RA benefits, claimants get Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) in the amount of their regular RA (a maximum of $275 per week).  In addition, they also get an extra $600 in PUC until no later than July 31, 2020.

PEUC is a fully federally funded program that only becomes available after a claimant exhausts all their regular RA benefits.

PEUC is not payable for any week of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020.

Weeks 26-39

After exhausting regular RA benefits and PEUC, claimants who are unemployed due to specific reasons related to COVID-19  can receive  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which is equal to their regular benefit amount, but no less than 50% of the state's average weekly UI benefit.  In addition, they also get an extra $600 in PUC until no later than July 31, 2020.

PUA is a program funded in full by the federal government.

PUA runs through December 31, 2020. 

For Floridians Who Do Not Qualify for Regular Reemployment Assistance:

Weeks 1-39

Many workers who are ineligible for Florida’s regular UI program can get PUA for up to 39 weeks if they are unemployed due to specific reasons related to COVID-19.  PUA is equal to their regular benefit amount, but no less than 50 percent of the state's average weekly UI benefit. 

In addition, they also get an extra $600 in PUC until no later than July 31, 2020.

Examples of workers who may not be eligible for regular RA but may be able to receive PUA include, but are not limited to, workers who are self-employed or independent contractors. Workers who do not have a sufficient work history to qualify for regular RA should also be eligible for PUA.

PUA is a program funded in full by the federal government.

PUA runs through December 31, 2020. 

Keep in mind:

As of now, RA’s wait week, work registration, work search, and bi-weekly reporting have been temporarily suspended.

Undocumented workers are not covered.

PUA does not cover those who can telework with pay or are receiving paid sick or paid leave benefits.


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