Unemployed Floridians say the state owes them thousands in unpaid benefits

Unemployed Floridians say the state owes them thousands in unpaid benefits

ORLANDO, Fla. — Despite millions of dollars spent on a broken unemployment system, Florida is second worst in the nation when it comes to paying claims in a timely manner.

Now, a growing group of people are complaining that they’ve only been partially paid and are still owed thousands of dollars.

READ: Key dates for the next set of payments

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According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are still more than 650,000 Floridians out of work. Ariel Austin is one of them.

“It’s to the point where I’ve had to sell my furniture just to try and get some kinds of funds to pay something,” Austin said earlier this month as her unemployment claim sat in “hold” status.

Austin says the Department of Economic Opportunity kept advising her to continue claiming additional weeks of unemployment, which she’s done.

Now, Austin’s account shows money owed towards her claim, but it remains in hold, and she says the FL DEO isn’t explaining why.

John Kemp is an unemployed Orlando Resident who says he’s also owed money from the state dating back to April.

“I’ve been doing a little bit of work for family and friends just to try and make ends meet,” Kemp says.

Already behind on his bills, Kemp says he’s worried that if the state can’t pay him what he’s owed now, he’s not sure how they’ll pay him the new federal unemployment authorized by congress.

“I don’t believe I’ll be approved for it because, since then, my unemployment benefits have exhausted themselves,” Kemp says.

Currently, people who are still unemployed can claim federal unemployment, even if their 12 weeks of state benefits have ended, but that will mean accessing a system that still has people locked out, more than 9 months after the start of the pandemic.