Unemployment Assistance

Filing for Unemployment

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is in charge of Unemployment. While the system is crashing, the most recent posts from DEO recommends the following: Any Floridian whose employment has been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19 to visit FloridaJobs.org and click on Reemployment Assistance Service Center to learn more about the program and watch a short video on how to apply.

In an effort to help, Monroe County has placed paper applications outside these locations: the Gato Building and Harvey Government Center in Key West, Bernstein Park on Stock Island, Big Pine Park and Michelle Coldiron’s office on Ship’s Way on Big Pine Key, at the Marathon Government Center, and all county libraries.

Increased Unemployment Compensation/Insurance.

IMPORTANT: Between now and July 31, 2020, an additional $600 per week will be added to every unemployment compensation check. In the State of Florida, unemployed workers can receive up to $275/wk. With the enhanced unemployment benefit, laid-off workers can receive up to $875/wk, and no one will receive less than $600 per week.

  • The benefit will be paid out for each week for four months (from now until July 31, 2020.)
  • The benefit assists workers who have been laid off or furloughed by their employer, and The CARES Act expands benefits to those that are not traditionally covered, including the self-employed, gig-workers, independent contractors, part-time workers, and workers with irregular work history.  This expanded eligibility exists until December 31, 2020.
  • This “enhanced unemployment benefit” is federally funded but will be distributed through the State’s existing unemployment insurance system.  In Florida, the State’s Department of Economic Opportunity administers the unemployment insurance program. So, be sure to file for unemployment assistance with the State as soon as possible.
  • The State of Florida’s unemployment insurance program is administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), and is called the “Reemployment Program.” 
  • To file an unemployment claim online: click here. The system to apply online is called “CONNECT” and the system is widely reported to be poorly functioning.
  • As an alternative, DEO is also accepting a hard-copy, paper application, that can be filled out and mailed in. To download the form click here. (The applications are available in English, Spanish and Creole.)  Fill it out and mail to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, P.O. Box 5350, Tallahassee, Florida, 32314-5350
  • To file a claim by phone: 800-204-2418.

Important information about new unemployment program expansions:

  • The CARES ACT provides an additional $600 per week on top of the State’s regular UI payment BUT the State has NOT YET announced how it will distribute these funds to UI recipients. 
  • The CARES ACT explicitly expands State UI to those not traditionally eligible – the self-employed (freelancers, 1099s, independent contractors, “gig” workers) and part-time workers. BUT the State of Florida has NOT YET accepted/incorporated this eligibility expansion into its program. 
  • This is an evolving situation and we will report new developments as they occur.

Resources for those deemed ineligible on the DEO’s CONNECT site can be found here.

PUA

Recovery Rebates for Individuals (Cash Assistance)

  • All individuals with a Social Security Number will receive rebates worth up to $1,200 for individuals ($2,400 for couples) and $500 per child under 17. A family of four could receive up to $3,400.
  • Rebates phase out above $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns.
  • Each member of your family must have a Social Security Number (included on your last tax return) to claim a rebate.
  • You must file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to receive a rebate check (or direct deposit).  You may file a return now in order to qualify.
  • People receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible. Social Security recipients will receive their rebate funds automatically (will not have to file a tax return.)
  • Rebates will not be counted as income for income-related programs like Medicaid, SSI or SNAP.
  • Rebates will not be subject to garnishment.
  • The distribution of rebates checks is reported to begin mid-April, 2020.

The IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April. The IRS has direct deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. This will include SSA beneficiaries who filed federal tax returns that included direct deposit information.

The IRS plans to make a second run of payments to SS beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit. (The estimates are that nearly 99 percent of SS beneficiaries who do not file a return receive their SS benefits through direct deposit.) 

The third round, IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals. The paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, which could take up to 20 weeks to get all the checks out.

The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order—starting with people with the lowest income first.

The IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file their 2019 returns to the maximum extent possible. As taxpayers file their 2019 returns electronically, the IRS will post updated tax information weekly to its files and then send this information to another agency that will issue weekly payments.

The IRS expects to create a portal by the end of April/early May that will allow taxpayers, once they have been authenticated, to (1) find out the status of their rebate payment and (2) update direct deposit information.

For Social Security beneficiaries who do not file returns, beneficiaries will not need to file a “simple tax return” to receive their rebate. Recipients will receive their rebate just as they would their Social Security benefits.

For other taxpayers who do not file returns, the IRS expects to release the “simple tax return” referred to in a recent IRS News Release “soon.” The IRS expects it will contain only a few questions, including name, SSNs, dependents, and deposit information. There also will be other IRS guidance accompanying this simple tax return".

Non-Cash Assistance/ Relief for Individuals

Creating Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans from 401(k) Plans and other Defined Contribution Retirement Plans:

You may be allowed to take up to $100,000 out of your account balance in 2020 if you or a family member test positive for the coronavirus or you suffer economic harm because of the coronavirus. You may also be allowed to borrow this amount from your account balance. If you have a plan loan outstanding and you are laid-off or terminated and cannot repay your loan, you are allowed an extra year to repay the loan. Contact the administrator for your plan

Waiving the 10% Additional Tax on Early Distributions from IRAs, 401(k) Plans and other Defined Contribution Retirement Plans: 

The 10% additional tax on pre-age 59 ½ distributions from IRAs, 401(k) plans and defined contribution plans does not apply for 2020 if you, your spouse or child tested positive for the coronavirus, or if you suffer economic harm because of the coronavirus—such as being laid-off, furloughed or having your hours reduced because of the virus, not being able to work because of a lack of child care due to the virus, or you have to close or reduce the hours of a business you own because of the virus. Please go to www.irs.gov for more details. The IRS will be providing information soon.

Waiving of Required Minimum Distributions from IRAs, 401(k) Plans and other Defined Contribution Plans: 

If you turned age 70 ½ in 2019, then you are not required to make minimum distribution by April 1, 2020. If you would regularly have to make a required distribution by the end of this year (December 31, 2020), then you do not have to do so—all required minimum distributions required to be made in 2020 are waived. Please go to www.irs.gov for more details. 

Deferring Contributions for Single-Employer Pension Plans: 

If your company sponsors a single employer pension plan, your company may be allowed to defer your required contributions due in 2020 (including quarterly contributions due in 2020) until January 1, 2021. Your company’s plan may also be allowed to use its 2019 funded percentage in 2020 for purposes of complying with funded-status benefit restrictions. Please go to www.irs.gov for more details. The IRS will be providing guidance soon.

Additional Help For Clients Having Issues Applying For Florida Unemployment Benefits