Thousands still waiting on unemployment benefits while governor says most eligible claims have been paid

Originally published on ABC 7 WWSB

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – When Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters last week that most people who applied for unemployment benefits had received their benefits, many of you reached out to ABC7 to say that wasn’t the case.

Representative Margaret Good echoed this,”“We have constituents call us every day that have applied for unemployment benefits in March and have yet to receive a check.”

For weeks we have heard heartbreaking stories about people not having enough money for food and other bills. ABC 7′s Daniela Hurtado and the digital content team have created a document that you can fill out if you have found yourself in this situation.

Monday, ABC 7 emailed a list of 457 names of Floridians who have not yet received benefits to the DEO, the office of the governor, and other legislators. We will do this every day until we stop getting names.

Congressman Vern Buchanan responded to the email, “It is unacceptable that so many people who are eligible for unemployment benefits are still waiting to receive their checks. I have forwarded this list to the governor’s office requesting immediate action on their applications. Many of these people need the money now to put food on the table and pay their bills. There is simply no excuse for continuing delays.”

Sen. Joe Gruters reached out to ABC7 , “My office has received hundreds of requests for assistance. Each case varies on the level of complexity involved on how quickly the case is resolved. We respond to every call and e-mail as quickly as possible. We are doing everything we can to assist each individual in receiving their benefits as quickly as possible.”

If you applied with the FDEO in March and still have not received any benefits, fill out the form below. We will send the contact information directly to the governor’s office on your behalf.

But even with hundreds and thousands of names from journalists and lawmakers across the state the governor said on Monday morning in Orlando that it was on reporters to assure the claimant information was correct.

“Isn’t it the DEO’s responsibility to tell us if they’re valid or not?” said an Orlando reporter during the news conference Monday.

“NO! No, here’s the problem. You are not even investigating whether they’re valid claims. You are just asserting that people have applied. And I’m telling you that we have 2 billion dollars in claims that have been paid,” said Gov. DeSantis.

Which is true. The state has rolled out more than 2 billion dollars in benefits for the unemployed.

The governor says 97% of valid and qualified applicants have been paid unemployment benefits.

The Department of Economic Opportunity reports that number is closer to 91.4%.

If your case is still pending the governor says the application is likely incomplete.

Floridians like Rachel Mattoni have been waiting on state benefits since March and says her case is complete.

“Just a lot of begging for help and I’ve basically have gotten nowhere. Except just to find out that there’s nothing wrong with my claim and nobody knows why I’m not getting paid,” said Mattoni.

She has been been sitting for eight weeks with no state money in sight.

“Would just like them to see us as human beings and people and to put themselves in our place,”said March unemployment filer, Rachel Mattoni.

Representative Margaret Good’s office has been sending Mattoni’s and the information of dozens of other people to the Governor and DEO representatives.

“We have called the DEO and the governor’s office daily to request assistance for these people. We have asked to be trained on the CONNECT system so that we can help people directly. At this point I seriously question whether the Governor really wants to make this happen for people,” said Rep Margaret Good, District 72.

Representative Good says this problem isn’t going anywhere unless Governor DeSantis fixes it.