Many unemployed still waiting

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
May 20, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Florida has paid out more money in unemployment claims over the last five weeks than all of the last four years combined, but tens of thousands of people applying for unemployment remain in limbo as of Wednesday.

“All of our phone lines are busy and we are unable to offer a callback option”.

It is a familiar sound to the unemployed.

Brooke Stanton said she has heard the message hundreds if not thousands of times.

Her call log shows six calls Monday.

“To this date, I still haven’t spoken to a human being. I haven’t gotten through at all,” said Stanton.

The man in charge, DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter, says he has 6,000 people answering the phone.

"We tell people don’t call 108 times,” said Satter.

And he still can’t keep up.

“Yesterday, we had a million phone calls. We’ve had 15 million phone calls since March 15. We haven’t gotten to most of those. Most of those people are hanging up. Its as upsetting to me as it to the callers,” said Satter.

The secretary did tell us that if you are calling about your claim, you should be prepared to wait longer than an hour.

On Monday, calls to check on claims were averaging an hour and 39 minutes.

He did say the best time to call was late in the afternoon.

As of Tuesday night, just under 200,000 claims were parked in what’s called a verification cue.

Brooks might be one of them because she has filed a duplicate claim after federal benefits became available.

“Because I am in a unique situation, I haven’t made a livable wage in two months because of this. And so, its just very frustrating,” said Stanton.

And while Governor Ron DeSantis said great strides have been made fixing a broken system he inherited, he also noted there are still improvements that need to be made.

“Still to this day, glitches are being fixed,” said DeSantis.

But it is of little consolation to the thousands like Brooke still waiting.