News Release: Senator Bill Nelson's Office
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Federal labor officials intend to head to Florida by the end of this week to help fix continuing problems plaguing Florida’s new unemployment benefits system.
“The secretary of labor has assured me his key staff that handle unemployment insurance will be in Tallahassee by the end of the week; and, they'll stay there until the problems are fixed,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a statement tonight in response to a number of media inquiries.
Nelson sought more direct intervention by federal authorities in the wake of media reports that thousands of Floridians have been unable to collect unemployment benefits they are due since the launch of the state’s new multi-million dollar website in mid-October.
According to one recent study done by the National Employment Law Project, unemployed Floridians may have been denied more than $22 million in benefits in October and November of last year while the problems continue.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke with Nelson this evening, as a follow-up to the lawmaker's recent written request for federal action. Perez conveyed that the initial purpose of his team’s trip will be to try to institute a way to pay those with continuing claims now and fix problems with the Florida system later, Nelson said.
People who have continuing claims have already been deemed eligible to receive initial unemployment benefits, but for some their benefits have reportedly been delayed or interrupted when issues with the state's new website made it impossible for them to meet their continuing requirements by showing they are available for work, actively seeking work, and have not turned down any suitable work offers.
Nelson said he believes Perez will have a progress report perhaps as early as next week.