Relief for Florida's unemployed may not be immediate

CREATED Jan 20, 2014

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FLORIDA- State officials announced Saturday that laid-off Floridians whose unemployment benefits have been on hold will soon get relief.  However, Fox 4 is discovering it still may take a while for a resolution. 

On Friday, officials from the Department of Economic Opportunity met with US Department of Labor officials who authorized the temporary payment to claimants who have been waiting in an adjudication or "hold" stage longer than a week.  Some Fox 4 viewers have had their accounts on hold for up to three months.

In order for individuals to get paid, however, Deloitte must program the system to immediately pay those claimants.  Fox 4 asked DEO spokeswoman Jessica Sims how long it will take to program the system, but she didn't have a timeframe saying it's not "instant." 

The announcement comes three months after the state launched a new, $63 million unemployment claims website, CONNECT, that has been plagued with technical issues. 

US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) made two requests for US Department of Labor officials to investigate the website.  

"It's called a little bit of communication, it's called putting the people's interests firsts," Nelson said. 

Governor Scott's office released the following statement: 

“DEO is working to hold Deloitte accountable and ensure that those who have been waiting on their benefits for far too long are paid as quickly as possible.” – Governor Rick Scott

Some claimants, like Kathi Bishop, remain skeptical after all of the issues with CONNECT over the last three months. 

"You just don't know if it's for real," Bishop said, speaking of DEO's announcement it will pay individuals.