$2.6 billion distributed in unemployment benefits by the DEO, dozens of paper applicants unsure of where they stand

Unemployment Paper Applications

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Florida Governor said on Tuesday that the Department of Economic Opportunity has distributed $2.6 billion.

Governor Ron DeSantis said during a news conference in Tallahassee that the DEO has distributed more money in the last ten weeks than they have in five years.

As state unemployment benefits roll out there are still thousands who say they haven’t received a dime.

Dozens of people have told ABC 7 that they haven't heard from the Department of Economic Opportunity after mailing in their paper applications.

Many people in radio silence, others finally heard back to find out they were deemed ineligible for state benefits.

The governor says he has state employees on the matter. The DEO’s latest statistics show more than 200,000 paper applications have been entered into the server.

At the beginning of April the Governor partnered with FedEx to get unemployment applications mailed for free to the DEO.

“Filled out the application on paper. I mailed it in right away and then I didn’t hear from them for weeks,”said unemployed intervention teacher Lee Newhart.

Lee Newhart is not the only one. Dozens of Floridians say they're stuck in a limbo because they applied by snail mail.

“Once you send it in it may take weeks to actually process it,” said District 72 Florida House of Representative Margaret Good.

Newhart says about three weeks ago she finally heard from the DEO and her case went active.

“Really I can’t live like this,” said Newhart.

A couple days ago it switched to ineligible.

“It’s just been hard. You know? I’m trying to stay positive. And just keep working at it. If I give up then I, you know? Have given up and that’s not a good thing either,” said Newhart.

Lawmakers like Representative Good say there’s been very little transparency when it comes to paper applications.

Other Suncoast lawmakers say to reach out for help from state leaders.

“For those that have filed paper applications, I hate to say this but maybe you have to file a new one electronically. But I think my office will walk you through those steps,” said District 23 Florida Senator Joe Gruters.

Gruters and other lawmakers say they want to get people into the system and with money in their pockets.

We have reached out to the DEO about the issues you’re experiencing with paper applications but haven’t received a response

In the meantime, if you’re still waiting on unemployment benefits and live on the Suncoast fill out our survey.

ABC 7 will be sending out the information to the Governor DeSantis, the DEO, and lawmakers every day until there are no new names submitted.

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