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.

What are the GENERAL eligibility requirements for Florida Reemployment Assistance (RA) benefits?

  • Totally or partly unemployed.
  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own. You cannot 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. This is called “monetary eligibility.”
  • This determination does NOT take into account specific COVID-19 related reasons for not working.
  • You MUST apply for general RA benefits and get a denial before you can apply for special COVID-19 benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

How do I apply for RA benefits?

Go to FloridaJobs.org and click on "file claim for state or federal RA benefits" if you have NOT already applied for RA benefits.

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

My application for RA benefits was APPROVED. What additional benefits are available if I am approved for a general RA claim?

If you are approved for your general RA claim, the maximum state benefit is $275 weekly. The amount can be less than $275 weekly depending on your earnings.

There are presently NO additional federal benefits available like the $600 and then $300 extra payment due to COVID-19.

My application for RA benefits was DENIED. What do I do?

If losing or leaving your job and you disagree with the decision, you have a legal right to file an appeal within 20 days of the decision. You will then get a telephone hearing to challenge the decision.

What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits?

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible under Florida's state Reemployment Assistance (RA) program due to COVID-19. This program expired on September 6, 2021, but you can still apply for benefits for 30 days after September 6, 2021, for any weeks workers may be entitled to benefits. After this 30 days there are no more PUA benefits.

Am I eligible for additional benefits when my regular RA claim normally would end?

The Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provided up to 13 weeks of benefits to a claimant who has exhausted their Reemployment Assistance benefits.

Through PEUC, Floridians were eligible for up to $275, in addition to the $600 and then $300 through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) in weekly benefits. HOWEVER, Florida ended federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits on September 6, 2021.

After the federal benefit programs expire on September 6, 2021, claimants will have 30 days to submit an application for PUA benefits for any weeks they are entitled. After this, there are no PUA benefits.

The Department will continue to pay eligible claimants the PUA and PEUC benefits they are owed for weeks of unemployment through the week ending September 4, 2021.

The state previously withdrew participation from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) programs effective June 30, 2021.

I have not received any benefits. If I do will I get benefits back to the date I applied?

You should get benefits back to the date you originally applied if you properly claimed your weeks on your CONNECT account on the Reemployment Assistance website.

The website says my application is “active” and/or “pending.” What should I do?

Though there may be a long wait, this generally means your application is under review and you need to wait for a decision.

Am I automatically eligible for benefits once I am approved?

NO. Claimants are scheduled to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request benefits. Completing this process submits your request for payment during your weeks of unemployment, even if your claim is pending for review. Beginning May 9, 2020, you will not receive a payment on your claim unless you have requested benefits.

You will be able to request your benefit payment for each week available. You will also be prompted to answer a series of questions for each applicable week.

Go to FloridaJobs.org/CARES-Act and click on the link entitled “Guide for Reemployment Assistance Claiming Weeks” for more information.

What do I need to certify when I am claiming weeks?

You need to certify that you are able and available for work and possibly to document work search efforts. You also need to report any work you did in a particular week and how much you earned.

Last updated: September 2021