Florida’s unemployment claims system shutting down for a week; claims, checks to be delayed

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If you’re planning to file an unemployment claim in Florida, you’re out of luck for the next week.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity has announced that it is shutting down its web-based unemployment filing system from noon Wednesday, Oct. 9, to 8 a.m., Oct. 15. The shutdown is expected to affected tens of thousands of unemployed Floridians receiving benefits.

The online system is being idled to allow for the state to transfer claims and accounts to a new online system called Connect. A department spokeswoman did not return calls or requests for information on how the blackout period will affect the state’s weekly reporting and tracking of unemployment by the number of jobless claims filed.

From Oct. 9-15, unemployed Floridians will be unable to file claims, and the state will stop processing, tracking and monitoring as it transitions to a new computer-based system.

In addition, a note on the Department of Economic Opportunity’s website warns users to expect longer “customer service wait times and busier phone lines” when the new system comes online.

The department is extending its hours starting Oct. 15 to accommodate the anticipated surge in filings and questions. DEO’s call center will be open from 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, the new system is not projected to shorten filing times but increase them, as more information will be requested from people filing claims for compensation.

There are 240,000 Floridians currently receiving unemployment benefits. If people did not get their claims in early, their payments will be delayed, while the system is dark.

The state also is telling claimaints that the 60-minute initial filing process will be longer under the new system. Unemployed people who already signed up for benefits also will be asked for additional information.

“When you login to the new CONNECT system, you may be asked more questions and for additional information in the filing process for both initial claims and continuing claims,” according to the website. “To protect your personal information and prevent fraud, additional security measures have been put in place that may increase the amount of information you are asked to provide and the length of time to complete your filing. “