State agrees to some ‘retroactive eligibility’ for unemployment benefits

Application for benefits
The move is a partial victory for Democrats.

The many Floridians who lost their jobs in recent weeks, then struggled with the unemployment claims process, will get a lifeline.

DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter said the state “..will be affecting a retroactive period to March 9th so it would be the day of their job loss or March 9th” that jobless Floridians begin receiving back benefits, according to Action News Jax.

Satter, who took over managing the state’s struggling unemployment system from Department of Economic Opportunity head Ken Lawson, has been charged with rescuing the system and the Governor’s credibility on the subject of unemployment.

Democrats had called for “retroactive eligibility” for weeks, but to no avail until this week.

In early April, the Democratic caucus wrote Gov. Ron DeSantis, pushing for retroactive eligibility to the date that a given worker’s job was terminated.

“Recognizing that the application system … was not only out of service for much of the start of this pandemic, but continues to undergo repair, we ask for immediate action to help expedite Floridians’ access to the unemployment benefits they have earned,” read the caucus letter.

Democrats had asked for a retroactive date of Mar. 1. They also requested unemployments benefit be extended to independent contractors, the class of workers that receives 1099s rather than W-2s, which are not eligible for benefit under Florida law.

While there is no provision for gig workers, and Democrats did not get the extra eight days sought, the move likely can be framed as a partial victory.

There is still room to move, however.

Benefits are capped at 12 weeks with a top payout of $275 weekly, making it among the nation’s most meager benefit. The Governor has expressed confidence that the $600 federal stipend will be enough to make up for any perceived coverage deficiency.

All told, 505,000 Floridians filed for unemployment last week, with 1.16 million having successfully filed since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, out of a 10.335 million person workforce.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


17 comments

  • Bob Loblaw

    April 24, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Will the $600 a week federal stipend be included for every week of retroactive eligibility?

  • Simon

    April 24, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Also will those who filed before the lockdown already on unemployment and not finding work be eligible for the federal stipend? Nowhere from the state are we being told we are and have not received any additional benefits.

  • Linda

    April 24, 2020 at 11:59 am

    THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN, YOU CANT GET TRU TO CONNENCT, IT KICKS YOU OUT EVERYTIME BACK TO THE LOGIN PAGE, CONNECT IS ALWAYS DOWN, THE PHONE NUMBERS AND OPTIONS ARE USELESS. YOU ARE DISCONECTED NO RESPONSE. , SENDING EMAILS =NO RESPONSE. THE PERSONS RESPONSIBLE THAT ALLOWED THIS SYSTEM TO DECAY SHOULD BE FIRED AND LET THEM TRY TO APPLY FOR BEEFITS THAT APPARETTLY ARE NOT THERE. RELIEF IS NEEDED NOW, NOT 2021.

  • Adam Boarman

    April 25, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Rick Scott bears responsibility for this mess, and the entire GOP for perpetuating it. Gig workers and 1099 employees suffer just as much, and get no help, even from the Federal funds, to which they are entitled, because Florida does not even have a way to transmit those applications to the Federal system. The real unemployment rate it this state is likely 2 to 3 times what is reported.

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  • Marylou Altieri

    April 25, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    All unemployment benefits are eligible for retroactive pay. It’s not the applicants’ faults if the system can’t handle the crush.

    Do right by your citizens, Florida. Give all of the applicants all of the unemployment benefits they are entitled to. Don’t be stingy.

  • Valerie Sprieser

    April 25, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    When are 1099 people going to get their CARE act money?
    The website was supposed to be finished this week??????

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  • Trying to stay calm through this

    April 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    I did not even get the retroactive unemployment. I can’t even get ahold of anyone. The Connect website also crashed while I was requesting benefits, then the site was disabled over the weekend and now I can’t request benefits for that week because the link is gone to request benefits. It took over a month to get my first check. I am grateful to have it, but they need to process documentation and pay properly.

  • J Anderson

    May 1, 2020 at 12:09 am

    As predicted, Desantis has implemented several more obstacles and bogus reasons to deny you the benefits you are legally due. He has created such a tangled clusterpuck or requirements, websites, logins, and applications that continue to contain conflicting and ambiguous questions that are unanswerable with any degree of confidence that the question is understood. It is all part of the process of wearing you down so that you quit, and ultimately, the money will end up in his own personal and political pockets.
    Complaining on social media doesn’t work anymore … they just turn it off and go about their day while the state’s citizens crash and burn.

    The Fed Gov knew that dumping the task of stimulus distribution onto State unemployment agencies would result in long delays in paying out benefits, and it’s almost certain that many benefits will never be paid out. This allowed the Fed Gov to create the perception that they did something bold and beneficial for U.S. citizens, relieving themselves of the responsibility and dumping it on State agencies. The fact is, what the Fed Gov did will likely prove to be of little benefit, as by the time the benefits get paid out, it will be too late for most small businesses and households that hung on as long as they could, but the money didn’t come in time.

    Millions of lives will suffer grave consequences and many will never recover. What many don’t understand or consider is the domino effect. Recovering or rebuilding from financial ruin requires far more than the sum of what was lost. Your credit rating will fall dramatically, which may disqualify you for housing, loans, etc., and if you are able to finance anything, you will pay more due to a bad credit rating. The last thing you need at that moment is an even higher cost than what you were paying before the crisis, and it may prevent you from being able to finance anything.

    Every utility will be more difficult and expensive to turn back on. You may lose your phone number and need to contact everyone to let them know the new number when you eventually can afford phone service again. You may still be on the hook for any payments not made to entities (mortgage, phone, utilities, etc.), which may lead to lawsuits and garnished wages if/when/as soon as you’re earning again. You’ll likely acquire penalties and fees for non-payment to credit cards.
    A particularly sinister hit is overdraft fees on your checking accounts. When you do get some money to deposit, those fees will be deducted right off the top. Again, the last thing you need in that moment. Banks are looking forward to that additional revenue that cost them nearly nothing to earn.

    Those are just a few of many examples of what you will likely suffer in addition to the obvious individual financial hardships. Don’t blindly believe the message of optimism coming from the Fed and State reps. Getting your life back to financial zero or balance will require far more than the sum of what was lost, and some will never be able to recover even after years of focused effort and doing the right thing. For many, American life as they knew it will change for the worse and their quality of life will never return to what it was.

    In 2020, considering the technology that’s available, there is absolutely no excuse for the inability of Fed and State Gov agencies to distribute funds. We put a rover on Mars, people. The problem is not the virus nor the volume to be distributed. The problem is that these agencies did not spend the money to keep their systems up to date and robust so that they could handle fluctuations or special conditions. After 30 years in IT, I assure you the capable technology is readily available. You, the citizens of your state, just aren’t important enough to be a high enough priority to spend the money on apparatus that serves you. It’s that simple. The level of incompetence of those elected into positions of power is stunning, especially against the backdrop of all the flag-waving and chest-beating about “American exceptionalism”. There is nothing exceptional about how the Fed and State Govs are handling the stimulus package – a critical determiner of whether businesses, families and individuals will or will not plunge into financial ruin.

    It’s possible, or even likely, that much of the money sent from the Fed Gov to State employment agencies will never be paid out or distributed at all. What do you think will happen with all of that money? Will the Fed Gov ask for it to be paid back? Doubt it. The status of that leftover money will become ambiguous and fall into a grey area – the perfect status for theft to occur. It will stay with the State and almost certainly, ultimately, be allocated to other projects or end up in the pockets of politics, politicians, and/or further laundered through unknown individuals close to those who are in control of the money.

    Keep in mind that there’s little incentive for states to pay out all of the money, but a big incentive to retain as much as possible, claiming that you, for one bogus reason or another, didn’t qualify.
    Keep that in mind every time your effort to complete the application, or progress through the myriad of incoherent, inconsistent pages to request a payout, is blunted for one reason or another, including kicking you out of the system after all the time spent to get that far into the process.
    Keep that in mind when considering the lack of, conflicting, and inconsistent guidance and instruction among those pages. Some have attempted to get through the process by trying every possible combination of selections, just to test to see if it’s even possible. While some have reported success, most report that the process is packed with confusing, conflicting, ambiguous, inconsistent questions that require choosing answers that don’t apply to the applicant. This starts a domino affect and builds-in reasons to deny the applicant in later pages of the process, making it actually, factually, impossible to satisfy the process and receive any benefits.

    Although completely justified, it’s doubtful that complaining on social media will be enough to change that outcome. Those in State Govs are counting on you to eventually tire, give up, and turn your attention to other things so they can quietly repurpose the money that is due to you, for their own self-interests. When Fed Gov officials are made aware of what’s going on, they simply deny it and boast about what a great job they’re doing, so don’t expect any help from them. They’ve washed their hands of it and just refer you back to the same entity that’s the source of the problem.

    They’re all asking you/us to be patriots and stand strong, do the right thing, tough it out, and show what we’re made of. Maybe the same should be applied to how we respond to the unpatriotic, disgusting, shameful denial of benefits that were promised and due, but intentionally or recklessly or irresponsibly or unlawfully made impossible to collect.
    If most of our protest is going to be through social media, at the very least, we need to quadruple the volume and focus it on those with their hands on the levers. Make it clear that we’re not letting up and not going away until every last dime that is due is paid out.

    Let’s hope several law firms file a NOTICE OF CLAIM and pursue other legal remedies if all that is due is not paid out by the end of May.
    ———————————————-
    Tort Actions Against State Officials.
    In Tindal v. Wesley, the Court adopted the rule of United States v. Lee, a tort suit against federal officials, to permit a tort action against state officials to recover real property held by them and claimed by the state and to obtain damages for the period of withholding. The immunity of a state from suit has long been held not to extend to actions against state officials for damages arising out of willful and negligent disregard of state laws. The reach of the rule is evident in Scheuer v. Rhodes, in which the Court held that plaintiffs were not barred by the Eleventh Amendment or other immunity doctrines from suing the governor and other officials of a state alleging that they deprived plaintiffs of federal rights under color of state law and seeking damages, when it was clear that plaintiffs were seeking to impose individual and personal liability on the officials. There was no “executive immunity” from suit, the Court held; rather, the immunity of state officials is qualified and varies according to the scope of discretion and responsibilities of the particular office and the circumstances existing at the time the challenged action was taken.
    ———————————————-
    “The safety and security of the American people is my #1 priority”.
    For decades we’ve heard that proclamation directly from the mouths of Presidents, Governors, Mayors, and others voted into positions of power whose salaries are paid by the citizens. They are correct. That is their #1 priority. Some of those same politicians and those who now occupy those positions have replaced that proclamation with, “No one expected this”. “No one saw this coming”. “Who would have ever thought this would happen”? “This is unheard of”. They are desperately hoping that the citizenry will find those to be acceptable excuses for why few of them, very few, prepared in any significant way for the possibility of a pandemic.

    When the excuses first started to fly, it seemed in poor taste to be cracking jokes considering the carnage that was unfolding. Of course, they weren’t joking, but 320,000,000 Americans are now able to clearly see that those in office are a joke. Tens of thousands of Americans are now dead and the country is on the verge of a complete economic collapse because of their incompetence. If the economy collapses, the carnage that follows will make the current situation and inconveniences seem like paradise.

    To be clear, I don’t affiliate with any political party because … dignity.
    And anyway, there’s decades of blame to be cast for both parties with regard to the current scourge that could very well be the country’s death knell as a result of failing to prepare. Those in power are hoping you will register their excuses as acceptable.
    Do you? Before you decide, read their excuses again, then click this link (that took less than 5 seconds to find) and read the first sentence above the first photo.
    https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html
    Now read their excuses again. How ’bout now?

    Let’s refresh on the context. We’re talking about the people that citizens elect, pay, and grant power to in exchange for ensuring the safety and security of the American people as their #1 priority. The longer they’ve been in power and have done little or nothing to prepare, the more culpable. They have access to nearly everything anyone could possibly need with regard to identifying the risks or potential risks to “the safety and security of the American people”, including the possibility of a pandemic. Challenged with the question of whether pandemics are a current and serious threat to American life, a fifth grader with an internet connection and an hour of web browsing could answer the question with the obvious “yes”. It’s a matter of when, not if, so count your intelligence insulted along with the tens of thousands dead and potential full collapse of the economy.

    To accept their excuses, you have to believe that, over the past many decades, no one on the teams of best-in-the-world specialists, scientists, historians, etc., had any (or enough) concern about the potential of a pandemic, despite the population densities of cities all over the world where the majority of eight billion people live.
    I’m confident that nearly everyone reading this, regardless of demographic, would quickly identify “pandemic” among the most urgent significant threats to “the safety and security of the American people” were they charged with the task.

    Still not sure about the validity of their excuses? Does this help?
    “No one expected this”. “No one saw this coming”. “Who would have ever thought this would happen”? “This is unheard of”.
    Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic: 1793
    Flu pandemic: 1889-1890
    American polio epidemic: 1916
    Spanish Flu: 1918-1920
    Asian Flu: 1957-1958
    AIDS pandemic and epidemic: 1981
    H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic: 2009-2010
    West African Ebola epidemic: 2014-2016
    Zika Virus epidemic: 2015-present day

    When further pressed, they qualify the excuses with, “This one is more contagious than those ones”. Oh, ok. Now I think I get it not at all.
    Little to nothing was done to prepare for ANY type of pandemic, therefore/so/but/and considering that COVID-19 pandemic is more contagious than the pandemic that little or nothing was done to prepare for, little or nothing COULD be done to prepare for COVID-19 pandemic or for the pandemic that little to nothing was done to prepare for because this is unheard of and who would have ever thought this would happen?

    No help. Nonsensical qualifiers for nonsensical excuses still resolve to unacceptable excuses. To be fair, their excuses would be valid if dinosaurs suddenly appeared after 65 million years. This isn’t that.

    Simplified and summarized, politicians did not do what they were charged to do. The direct result is tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths from the virus; thousands or tens of thousands of deaths over the next few years as a direct result of the economic damage; hundreds of thousands or millions bankrupted and will never fully recover for the rest of their lives; and the real potential of a complete economic collapse that would likely end the most successful empire in the history of the world, its people the most innovative and generous to ever walk the face of the earth.

    Hyperbole? Don’t think it could happen? Nor did the citizenry of every empire in history until the moment it did. Ironically, as their world was falling all around them, unsure of what to do or where to go, they wandered about repeating to themselves and others, “No one expected this”. “No one saw this coming”. “Who would have ever thought this would happen”? “This is unheard of”.

    As for those who fail to fulfill their charge, most of them wealthy, the worst-case scenario is the loss of their position of power. Let that sink in for a minute. Where is the accountability commensurate with the magnitude of potential damage that may occur as the result of incompetence? If this degree of failure would result in a lengthy prison sentence, all of the Fed and State warehouses would have been overflowing with ventilators and PPE when this pandemic arrived, regardless of where it originated or how it traveled. Call it a hunch.

    Wake up America!

    This would be a good time for everyone to break their focus on which Kardashian has the nicest ass and pause binging on other reality shows intentionally self-deluded to believe they’re real.
    This may be your last chance to save the country and yourselves if it’s not too late already. A shift in priorities will be required regardless of all else, and most of the population will need to be onboard. Then, it has to be sustained. Both possible, neither likely, but it’s the only way. I’ll kick it off with an example that should be a no-brainer to a healthy society, but American society hasn’t been healthy for decades.

    Read this list over and over until it’s permanently burned into your consciousness. It’s a subset of the professions and industries listed as “Essential” during this crisis. Everyone in every position on the full list is important, but this subset is of those who are risking their lives every day every time they go to work, and many have and will lose their lives, and they are the only thing standing between you and a virus that would otherwise end you, everyone you know, and most of the population of the country.
    Healthcare, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Grocery, Transportation.

    Noticeably absent from the full list and certainly this subset are professional sports figures and Hollywood actors. And at last check, the number of people from either industry that have walked into a healthcare facility bursting with Covid patience, geared up with complete PPE or a patchwork of DIY PPE due to the incompetence of political leaders, and volunteered to help, is somewhere around zero.

    Now, consider the average and range of income of those in the subset compared to sports figures (game players) and actors (pretenders). Not counting medical doctors who make up a small percentage of the whole, annual income is roughly $30K – $90K.

    American citizenry allows, even supports sports figures and actors earning hundreds of thousands at minimum, with many or most earning a million, ten million, even 100 million dollars during a career or even a short contract. None of them will be coming to save you. None of the sports figures will care how many games you’ve attended or tattoos of their logo you have, or that you dipped into your kid’s college fund to buy their merch. Actors won’t care how many of their films you’ve seen or how many times you’ve quoted their lines or used their likeness in a meme. They all will and are preoccupied with saving their own and themselves along with their fortunes. If things get bad enough, while you’re struggling to survive one more day, they and theirs will be on their private jets heading to lavish underground bunkers on an island they or their peers own.

    Nice job America. Send your single-mom nurses earning $50K/yr in to save your asses and possibly die in the effort, while making heroes of adults who never grew up and play games for a living, and others who hone their craft of deception to play characters that allow your fantasies of what you might have been or become if you weren’t so YOU, come true for 90 minutes.

    It’s no sign of good health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.

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