Unemployment During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis

This resource contains common questions about unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis for Tampa Bay area residents including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

Apply for services by phone Monday-Friday, 9.a.m.-4:30 p.m., or apply online anytime.

To learn more about our services, visit Get Help or How Do I Apply? Am I Eligible?.


What are the general eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits?

  • Totally or partly unemployed.
  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own. *You cannot have quit for personal reasons or been fired for misconduct.
  • Able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work.
  • Minimum amount of wages earned in the first 12 months of the past 15 months from when you file your claim for benefits.

What additional benefits are available to address COVID-19?

  • You can get an additional $600 weekly thru July 31 and up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
  • You can get benefits if: you are laid off or your hours are cut or you are unable or unavailable to work because of COVID-19.
  • You can get benefits even if self-employed, an independent contractor, freelancer, part time worker or don’t have a work history long enough to usually qualify.

How do I apply?

  • Fill out an online application at: FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication
  • Fill out an application on your phone at: FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19
  • There is also a paper application available which you mail into Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, P.O. Box 5350, Tallahassee, FL, 32314. This option may take longer to process.
    • You can print it at home and follow the directions from FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19.
    • You can call a local FedEx Office, who can print the application and mail it for you free of charge.
    • In Hillsborough County, residents can go to Jan Platt Regional Library (3910 S. Manhattan Ave.) or Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library (2902 W. Bearss Ave) to pick up, complete, and return applications in their drive-thru locations for free mailing. The drive-thru is open Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NOTE: CareerSourceFlorida.com lists locations where you can get help filling out your paper or online application.

What info do I need to apply?

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s License or State ID number
  • Amount made and employment information for each employer you had in last 18 months (address, phone, start and stop day of work)
  • Employer ID # (found on W2 or 1099) if possible

What if separation is not COVID-19 related?

Pick the appropriate category and describe reason for separation. “Permanent lay off,” “temporary layoff” and “discharged, job performance” are generally approved for benefits.

How do I answer the application question “reason for separation”?

If separation is because of COVID-19 you need to check the “COVID-19” box AND fill in details in the “explain reason for separation” box. Reasons include:

  • Diagnosed with or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Household member has COVID-19
  • Caring for person with COVID-19
  • Caring for child who is out of school due to COVID-19
  • Advised to self-quarantine by doctor
  • Was scheduled to start job but do not have job and cannot contact employer due to COVID-19 outbreak
  • Become breadwinner for a household because head of household has died as result of COVID-19
  • Had to quit job as direct result of COVID-19
  • Employer is closed as direct result of COVID-19 + Meet other Secretary of Labor criteria

What if I am denied? Can I appeal?

You MUST file an appeal within 20 days. Call Bay Area Legal Services for help and possible representation in your appeal.


Last updated: May 1, 2020

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

How do I apply? Am I eligible?

Call (800) 625-2257

to apply for service.

Or complete our online application

and we will call you back.