If you’ve been let go from your job through no fault of your own, you probably have a lot of questions regarding unemployment compensation. Florida has its own rules regarding who is eligible, benefit amounts, and prior earnings requirements. If you meet the state’s requirements and are available, able, and actively looking for a new job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Here are answers to 10 common Florida unemployment questions that will help you better understand what you need to know about Florida unemployment benefits.
Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?
To qualify for unemployment benefits in Florida, you must be out of work through no fault of your own. In addition, you have to have earned $3,400 during a 12-month base period—the first four of the five calendar quarters prior to filing your Florida unemployment benefits claim. You also must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or have a permit to work in the United States.
- Have worked for an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law.
- Be able and available for work.
- Register online with the Employ Florida marketplace.
If You Quit Your Job Are You Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?
If you quit your last job voluntarily, you are not eligible for Florida unemployment benefits. However, you could be eligible if:
- It was necessary for you to quit due to illness or disability.
- You quit due to unsolvable problems at work, such as discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions.
- You quit because your spouse is in the military and was ordered to permanently relocate.
If You Were Fired Are You Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?
If you were fired due to misconduct, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. In Florida, misconduct can be defined as:
- Conduct that disregards your employer’s interests and violates reasonable standards of behavior, including theft or property damage.
- Carelessness or negligence on such a scale that shows culpability or intentional disregard of your employer’s interests and your obligations.
- Repeated absenteeism or lateness that violates your employer’s policy or one or more unapproved absences after a written warning related to that absence.
- Subjecting your employer to sanctions or loss of licensure through violating a standard or regulation.
- Violating your employer’s rules that are known and consistently and fairly enforced.
How Do I Apply for Unemployment Benefits?
Visit the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website for details about applying for unemployment benefits and the following:
- Information you will need to provide to apply for unemployment benefits.
- How to apply online.
- How to calculate what you could receive in unemployment benefits.
- How to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Benefits?
Your weekly benefit amount is based on the aforementioned base-period salary; it’s 1/26th of your earnings during the highest paid quarter of that period. The least you can earn per week is $32 and the most is $275.
Can I Earn Money While Collecting Unemployment Benefits?
You won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits once you get a new job if it pays more than you are receiving in weekly compensation. However, if you simply pick up small jobs along the way and earn less than the weekly benefit amount, you should be able to receive unemployment benefits. That said, if you earn more than $58 a week, the state will deduct a small portion, which acts as a further incentive for you to find a job. In addition, you have to report your gross income and your earnings each time you request a benefit payment. And the payment has to be reported the week you earned it, not the week you received your paycheck.
How Long Will My Unemployment Benefits Last?
Florida’s unemployment rate at the time you apply for unemployment benefits determines how long you can receive compensation. The maximum number of weeks you can collect is 23, but during times of high unemployment (for example, during the Great Recession, which started in 2008), you may be able to apply for extended benefits (EB) and/or emergency unemployment compensation (EUC). However, neither program is available at this time due to lower unemployment rates.
What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits?
Once the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity approves your application, you have to do a number of things to remain eligible for unemployment benefits:
- Remain unemployed or underemployed, which typically means earning less than what you would receive in unemployment benefits (see above).
- Be able and available to work.
- Actively look for work.
- File to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
For more information on each of these eligibility requirements, access the Florida DEO’s CONNECT Claimant Guide.
Can I Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits?
If you are denied Florida unemployment benefits by the DEO (or they allocate a lower amount than you feel you are entitled to), you can appeal. But it’s important to note that you only have 20 days to do so. The Florida DEO’s website and Claimant Guide has more information on:
- Instructions, forms, and the deadline for filing an appeal.
- How and where to file an appeal.
- The length of the appeal process.
- What you should do if you file after the appeal deadline.
- What happens to your benefits while waiting for the DEO’s decision.
Do I Need an Attorney to Receive Unemployment Benefits?
You should consider consulting with an experienced unemployment compensation attorney if you feel as though you’ve been unfairly denied Florida unemployment benefits. An attorney can:
- Determine whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Determine whether your employer’s reason for letting you go was lawful and it stopped you from receiving unemployment benefits.
- Help you with your appeal to the Florida DEO, if you’ve been denied unemployment benefits
- Counsel you on how you can continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Before hiring an attorney, you may want to visit the Florida DEO’s right to appeal page, which will give you a sense of the appeal process, deadlines, and instructions about your potential hearing. If you go forward with the appeal process, it’s a good idea to consider hiring an attorney because your former employer is likely to have one. Your attorney can advise you on the evidence that will help your case, question witnesses, and argue on your behalf as to why you should be awarded unemployment benefits.
We at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. can help answer all of your Florida unemployment benefit questions and determine if you’ve been unfairly denied compensation. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.