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Unemployment Benefits in Florida: A Step-by-Step Guide

You are eligible for unemployment compensation if you have been laid off from your job through no fault of your own. It is understandable that you probably have a lot of questions on how unemployment compensation works. Florida has specific rules about eligibility, benefit amounts, and earnings requirements. You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet the state’s requirements and are actively looking for a new job.

1. Am I Eligible for Florida Unemployment Benefits?

To qualify for unemployment compensation in Florida, you must be out of work through no fault of your own and have earned a minimum of $3,400 during a 12-month period. It’s important to note that for the first four of the five quarters before filing your Florida unemployment benefits claim that you are :

  • a U.S. citizen or have a permit to work in the United States
  • have worked for an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law
  • are able and available for work

If you quit your job, you are not eligible for Florida unemployment compensation unless you quit because:

  • of illness or disability
  • of unsolvable problems at work, such as discrimination, harassment, or unsafe working conditions
  • your spouse is in the military and was ordered to relocate permanently

If misconduct led to your firing, you are not eligible for unemployment compensation. Florida defines misconduct as:

  • Conduct that disregards your employer’s interests and violates reasonable standards of behavior, including theft or property damage

  • Carelessness or negligence on such a scale that shows culpability or intentional disregard of your employer’s interests and your obligations

  • Repeated absenteeism or lateness that violates your employer’s policy or one or more unapproved absences after a written warning related to that absence

  • Subjecting your employer to sanctions or loss of licensure through violating a standard or regulation

  • Violating your employer’s rules that are known and consistently and fairly enforced.

2. You Must Register Online At Employ Florida Marketplace.

You must be actively looking for employment and ready to work to be eligible for Florida Unemployment.

3. How Do I Apply for Florida Unemployment Benefits?

Visit the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website for details about applying for unemployment benefits and the following:

  • Information you will need to provide to apply for unemployment benefits
  • Learn how to apply online
  • Calculate what you could receive in unemployment benefits
  • Discover how to continue to receive unemployment benefits

4. How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Compensation?

The least you can earn per week is $32, and the most, $275. Your weekly unemployment check is based on the base-period salary (mentioned above); it’s 1/26th of your earnings during the highest-paid quarter of that period.

5. Can I Earn Money While Collecting Unemployment Compensation?

If you get hired for a new position that pays more than you are receiving in weekly unemployment compensation, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, if you find small jobs while you are unemployed and earn less than the weekly unemployment benefit amount, you still should be able to receive unemployment benefits. However, if you make more than $58 per week, the state of Florida will deduct a small portion from your unemployment check, which acts as a further incentive for you to find a job. Also, you must report your gross income and your earnings each time you request a benefit payment. And any payment for work you earn has to be declared the week you worked to make it, not the week you receive a paycheck.

6. How Long Will My Unemployment Compensation Last?

Florida’s unemployment rate, the time you apply for unemployment benefits, determines how long you can receive compensation. Twenty-three weeks is the maximum number of weeks you can collect. Unless it’s during times of very high unemployment, such as during the Great Recession, you may apply for extended benefits (EB) or emergency unemployment compensation (EUC). However, right now, those programs are not available because of low unemployment rates.

7. What Do I Have to Do to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

Once the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity approves your application, you still have to do the following things to remain eligible for your unemployment benefits:

  • Remain unemployed or underemployed, which typically means earning less than what you would receive in unemployment benefits (see above).
  • Be able and available to work.
  • Be actively looking for work.
  • You must file with the Florida DEO to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

For more information about the requirements, visit Florida DEO’s CONNECT Claimant Guide.

8. Can I Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Compensation?

If you are denied Florida unemployment benefits by the DEO (or they allocate a lower amount than you feel you are entitled to), you can appeal. But it’s important to note that you only have 20 days to do so. The Florida DEO’s website and Claimant Guide has more information on:

  • Instructions, forms, and the deadline for filing an appeal
  • How and where to file an appeal
  • The expected length of the appeal process.
  • What you should do if you file after the appeal deadline
  • What happens to your benefits while waiting for the DEO’s decision

9. Do I Need an Attorney to Receive Unemployment Benefits?

You should consider consulting with an experienced unemployment compensation attorney if you feel unfairly denied Florida unemployment benefits. An attorney can:

  • Determine whether you are eligible for unemployment compensation.
  • Determine whether your employer’s reason for letting you go was lawful, and it stopped you from receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Help you with your appeal to the Florida DEO
  • Counsel you on how you can continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Hiring an attorney is an important decision, so we suggest visiting the Florida DEO’s right to appeal page, which will inform you about the appeal process, deadlines, and instructions about your potential hearing. If you appeal, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney because your former employer is likely to have one. Your attorney can advise you on the evidence that will help your case, question witnesses, and argue on your behalf and help you get the unemployment benefits you deserve.

The employment attorneys at Florin Gray, can help to answer all of your Florida unemployment questions. We can also help determine if your case was unfairly denied compensation. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

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