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Unemployed Floridians say the reemployment assistance system is still frustratingly glitchy

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 11:51 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Unemployment woes aren’t just 2020′s story. Here in 2021, a growing number of Floridians are reporting issues with the state’s reemployment assistance system.

Austin Jobko, a Quincy resident who lost his roofing job in March, is one of those people.

“My bills started getting backed up, and more backed up, and more backed up,” he said.

Jobko said his problems started almost right away, during the initial process to verify his identity using a third-party company ID.me.

“I reached out because I needed help, and I never received it,” he said. “It just never approved me, it kept saying verification pending.”

Jobko said he presented all the needed paperwork and information, including a social security number. But his phone number, used by a cell phone from Cricket Wireless, was registered to someone else, apparently raising a red flag.

The state hired ID.me several months ago in an effort to crack down on users taking advantage of the system. But the attack against defrauders may be leaving some behind.

Jobko was told by ID.me to use his camera to get his identity confirmed through a more advanced method. But he says he waited in front of his phone’s camera for six-plus hours multiple days without ever getting seen by the system.

“It was horrible, just horrible,” he said.

But in the below statement sent to WCTV, ID.me claims their process works without a problem for almost every user.

State Rep. Allison Tant (D- Tallahassee) said her office has been flooded with constituents reporting various hiccups trying to collect unemployment.

“We have a number of people not getting the help they need on the timeline they need it,” she said.

Rep. Tant said her office is in constant talks with the DEO, and believes their team is up to the task, but is dealing with an overwhelming workload.

She said a number of people have issued complaints about ID.me and planned to make inquiries about those issues in the coming days.

“No Floridian should be in a position where their backs are up against the wall and they have to call the Press,” she said.

While a number of viewers have reached out to WCTV about their unemployment issues, not every person has troubles with ID.me. Instead, they say DEO’s CONNECT system is sluggish, phone lines are glitchy, or records aren’t kept accurately.

Rep. Tant believes the May mandate to report work searching requirements has led to an expanded number of people accessing the system, slowing it down.

In the statement below, a department spokesperson said the DEO is aware of some issues and is working to correct them.

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