Published in: Banks | March 31, 2020

How to Apply for Unemployment in Florida

By:  Kailey Hagen

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Unemployment can provide some of the financial support you need in these challenging times.

Thousands of Florida workers are now spending their days sheltering in place as the nation works to slow the spread of COVID-19. But this can create some financial challenges for those who depend on a weekly paycheck. Unemployment won't replace your paychecks entirely, but it can help you get through the next few difficult months.

Here's everything you need to know about Florida unemployment benefits, including eligibility requirements and how to apply.

The Florida state flag flying in front of a blue sky.

Image source: Getty Images

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

Florida residents must meet the following requirements to claim unemployment benefits:

  1. You've lost your income or your hours have been reduced against your will so you're earning $275 or less in gross income per week.
  2. You must be actively seeking work (see note below).
  3. Your past earnings must fulfill certain requirements.

Due to public health concerns, Florida workers do not have to fulfill the work-search requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida evaluates your past earnings during a base period. This is the first four of the last five complete quarters before you applied for unemployment. So if you apply in March, your base period is October 2018 to September 2019, and if you apply in April, it's January to December 2019. 

You must have earned wages in at least two quarters during your base period and have earned at least $3,400 during your base period. Your total base period earnings must also be 1.5 times your earnings during your highest-earning quarter. So if you earned $2,000 in your highest-earning quarter, you must have earned at least $3,500 during your base period to qualify.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can apply for unemployment benefits on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website. Have this information ready:

  • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number
  • Driver's license or state ID number
  • Employment history for the last 18 months, including employer name, address, phone number, dates of work, gross earnings, and Federal Employer ID number (FEIN) found on your tax return, if available
  • Bank account information for direct deposit

Once your account is set up, you must log in every two weeks to request your next benefit payments, even while your claim is still pending review.

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the lower of:

  • Your income during the highest-earning quarter of your base period, divided by 26, or
  • $275

So for example, if you earned $2,000 during your highest-earning quarter, you'd get $77 per week.

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

You can claim Florida unemployment benefits until you hit the lower of these limits:

  • Your total base period earnings divided by 4, or
  • 12 weeks

However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 25 weeks.

Remember, you must also stop claiming unemployment if you find new employment.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

You must make an appeal request within 20 calendar days of receiving your claim denial. You can submit your request online or via email, fax, or mail.

Florida unemployment benefits probably won't be a full substitute for your previous paychecks, but they can give you some income during these uncertain times. Apply now if you believe you qualify.

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