Thousands to lose federal unemployment benefits; getting help could be difficult

CREATED Dec 16, 2013

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FLORIDA -- With thousands of Floridians slated to lose their federal unemployment benefits Dec. 28, Fox 4 is discovering it could create more problems for the  state's already taxed unemployment call center.  

Another viewer sent us the letter she received from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) informing her that her benefits were about to expire.  

The letter refers claimants to call a phone number to get help or more information.

Fox 4 is discovering that phone number is the same number people are trying to get through to for help with the new unemployment website. 

Since the state launched a new, $63 million unemployment website, called CONNECT, on Oct. 15, many Floridians haven't been able to receive their benefits.  

They're forced to call the DEO's help line, which gets tens of thousands of calls every day.  

As a result, users face long wait times or busy messages when they call.

One viewer sent a screenshot of his call history, and said he waited on hold for more than five hours before getting disconnected.

In a daily memo released from DEO, officials said on Wednesday, Dec. 11, the call center received 99,673 calls.

Of those calls, 6,620 -- or about 6.6 percent-- resulted in live customer interactions.  DEO has 395 agents staffing the call center.