This week, the Department of Economic Opportunity said that almost all of the more than 200,000 Floridians who were deemed ineligible for state unemployment benefits over the weekend should reapply.

Nearly 268,000 Floridians have been deemed ineligible since March 15—over 40 percent of all claims the state has processed. Most of those people are flagged as ineligible for state benefits, which are hard to receive and max out at only $275 per week.

Those applicants can now begin applying for federal relief through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The program offers a combination of two payouts for individuals found ineligible for the state program that were impacted by the coronavirus outbreak: a maximum of $275 a week for up to 39 weeks that can be combined with an additional $600 a week in federal benefits. It is available through July 31, for weeks of unemployment beginning March 29.

The assistance was approved as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed last month, but Florida had not yet integrated the application process into its already struggling system when applications started coming in. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says applications should begin to become available for Floridians on floridajobs.org. The department instructs workers to click “file a claim” and answer a few questions before they’re led to the application for PUA benefits. Floridians are also advised to call 1-833-352-7759 for additional assistance.

Only Florida workers who are ineligible for state benefits can tap into PUA. Floridians that are self-employed, gig workers, contractors, or other workers who applied for state benefits before April 4 and were marked ineligible should apply again at Floridajobs.org, select “file a claim” and request the PUA application.

First-time applicants should apply for state unemployment first at floridajobs.org/RAApplication.

People who applied for benefits on or after April 5 and were deemed ineligible will get additional application information from the DEO. The department said workers who fall in this category should monitor their CONNECT accounts and email for additional information on how to apply for PUA benefits only.

*By staff writer via Bradenton Times*