Unemployment benefits remain out of reach for many jobless South Floridians

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – In addition to dealing with the fear of being infected by the new coronavirus, many South Floridians are standing alone with the financial burden that comes with the shut down that is meant to save lives.

There are furloughs, pay cuts and layoffs. But despite the suffering, the benefits that the state is supposed to pay workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own remained out of reach for many.

Paulina, who asked to not be identified by last name, said she has been trying to file for unemployment for the last two weeks. The mother of four said she lost her job as a server when a restaurant closed.

“Our bills are still coming in. The lights still need to stay on. My children still have to eat, and I haven’t been able to get a hold of anybody,” she said, adding that the state’s Friday deadline was impossible to meet.

With the economy in a record decline, Gov. Ron DeSantis asked Floridians for patience on Monday. DeSantis and Ken Lawson, who oversees the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee, are working to update the system.

DeSantis used his emergency powers to get rid of 2011 restrictions and requirements that complicated the process. Unions are asking DeSantis to do more. The $2 trillion federal aid package is supposed to help the unemployed, including gig workers, with $875 a week for 13 weeks. Paulina said she needs the money now.

ALSO SEE: How to file for unemployment benefits during coronavirus pandemic

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