Federal Benefits - Florida Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out how Florida unemployment benefits and eligibility are administered, including information about how to apply and whether you're likely to qualify.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is responsible for handling federal reemployment assistance benefits. The program provides financial assistance to people who become temporarily unemployed or have their working hours reduced in circumstances that are not their fault. 

Unemployment benefits allow unemployed Florida residents to cover their basic living expenses and protect the economy from the effects of reduced spending during times of high unemployment. The scheme is funded by employer taxation. Below, you can read about how Florida unemployment benefits and eligibility work to help you understand what support you're entitled to. 

How Do I Claim Florida Unemployment Benefits?

You can apply for Florida unemployment benefits online via the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's online portal. Alternatively, you can submit a claim on paper by mailing your application to:

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
P.O. Box 5350
Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350

You can get help to complete a paper application at your local CareerSource center or call the helpline at 1-833-352-7753 to get help with filing a claim online. 

You will need to submit the following information to allow the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to assess your eligibility:

  • Your Social Security or Alien Registration number
  • Driver's license or state ID number
  • 18-month employment history, including employment dates for each role and your reasons for termination
  • Pretax earnings
  • SF-8 or SF-50 form (ex-federal government employee)
  • DD-214 Member 4 or Member 2-7 form (ex-military employees)

After you submit your application, it will be reviewed to determine if you qualify for benefits. Your previous employers may be contacted to verify the information you provided in your application. You will receive no benefits during a "waiting week" to give the agency time to respond. If they don't, your claim will be assessed based on your reported earnings and work record.

You should log into your CONNECT account to file a fortnightly claim for benefits, even if your application is pending. If you don't, it could cause you to lose your benefits for the weeks when you didn't file a claim if your application is successful. 

You may be asked to submit additional information to help assessors determine your eligibility, and it's important to provide this as quickly as possible to avoid delays in getting approved. You should keep an eye on your reemployment assistance inbox to avoid missing any essential correspondence. 

You will receive a written notice to tell you the outcome of your application. If you are awarded benefits, it will include a monetary determination notice that explains your weekly and total benefit amount and how the figure was calculated. 

What Are the Florida Unemployment Benefits Eligibility Criteria?

Applicants must fulfill several monetary and non-monetary eligibility criteria to be approved for Florida reemployment assistance benefits. Your previous earnings, reasons for unemployment and work availability will be examined to decide if you're eligible. Successful applicants will also need to meet weekly criteria to continue receiving benefits. 

Monetary Eligibility Criteria

The state of Florida calculates your earnings during a base period to decide if you meet the monetary criteria for benefits. In Florida, the base period is determined by counting back 15 months before the date you file your claim and considering your earnings for the first 12 months of that period. 

To qualify, you must have been paid in at least two calendar quarters of your 12-month base period. Your total earnings must equal a minimum of 150% of what you earned in your highest-paid quarter and must exceed $3,400.

Non-Monetary Eligibility Criteria

The non-monetary Florida unemployment benefits eligibility criteria require that you are unemployed due to no fault of your own and that you are ready and able to work on any given week during your claim period. 

You will likely satisfy Florida's non-monetary criteria if your employment contract was terminated for reasons beyond your control, but you won't be eligible if you were fired because of poor workplace conduct. For example, you may be able to claim benefits if your employer goes bust or reduces your hours for operational reasons. 

You probably won't be eligible for Florida unemployment benefits if you quit your job because of personal or family circumstances. However, you may be eligible if the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity considers your reasons for quitting reasonable or unavoidable. For example, people who quit their jobs because of unresolved, hazardous working conditions can often claim benefits successfully. 

You must also be ready and able to work when you apply for benefits and throughout your claim period. This means that you must be fit and well enough to work and have the correct arrangements in place to do so, such as adequate childcare arrangements. 

Weekly Eligibility Criteria

You could lose your unemployment benefits eligibility if you don't comply with your weekly eligibility requirements. Claimants are expected to register with the Employ Florida work registration system and make every effort to find a job. You will be asked to supply evidence of what you've been doing to find work when you submit your biweekly benefits claim. 

You may be told to attend supportive appointments at your local CareerSource center to help you get back into work. These appointments won't be offered to every claimant, but they are mandatory if you are asked to attend. Failure to attend a CareerSource appointment or accept a suitable job offer could result in the loss of your unemployment benefits. 

How Long Can I Claim Florida Unemployment Benefits, and How Much Will I Get?

How long you can receive Florida unemployment benefits varies depending on unemployment rates at the time. As of 2021, the maximum time you can receive benefits is 19 weeks. 

Your weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing your total earnings in the quarter in which you were paid the most by 26. You will then receive this amount per week, or the weekly maximum of $275, whichever is lower. Your total benefit amount is calculated by dividing your base period total by 4, but it cannot exceed the maximum total benefit amount of $5225.

You can choose between two payment options. You can either receive your benefits by direct transfer into your nominated account or via a Way2Go debit card. 

What If I Am Denied Florida Unemployment Benefits?

Most unsuccessful applications are denied because the claimant didn't meet the Florida Unemployment benefits eligibility criteria. However, you can appeal the decision if you believe it is unfair. Appeals can be submitted via the CONNECT portal, by email at RA.AppealsClerks@deo.myflorida.com, or in writing to the following address:

Office of Appeals
P.O. Box 5250
Tallahassee, FL 32399-5250