Unemployment is supposed to help you during those times when you are laid off from your job. The money gives you time to cover your costs of living until you can find another job. The problem is that more Floridians are having their claims for unemployment denied.
Statistics show that one out of every four unemployment applications is denied for one reason or another. Many times these denials disproportionately affect minorities, low-income workers, and those in poor health. The common reason given is that the applicant does not qualify for unemployment benefits. These workers spent years paying into the system and need these benefits to get through a rough patch in their lives.
Denials can have a devastating financial impact on your mental and physical well-being. When you are denied, you need solutions that will help you to get the money you deserve. Here are some things you can do when you are denied unemployment in Florida.
The First Step in the Process
The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is responsible for handling your claim and runs Florida’s unemployment program. The first thing you want to do is ask yourself why the claim was denied. You must meet several criteria to be eligible for unemployment in Florida. The different standards include:
- You are not working full-time and are partially or totally unemployed.
- You are available, able, or actively looking for work.
- You earned the minimum amount of wages during the first twelve months out of the fifteen months time frame before the date of filing your claim.
- You are not working because of something that is not your fault. This means that you were not fired for cause and you did not quit.
The DEO will review your claim in two steps:
- Meeting the base period requirements: This is when they decide if you are eligible for unemployment on your earnings and the time of employment. It will give you an initial notice or determination during this process. Your employer gets a copy of this notice. The funding for unemployment is through payroll taxes paid by your employer. The more you are collecting, the higher the payroll taxes they will have to pay.
- Review: An adjudicator at the DEO will review the claim. They will look at how your last job ended, whether you are seeking work, and whether you were turned down by a suitable job. After this is complete, the DEO will send you a notice stating that your claim is approved or denied. It will list the reasons for any denials.
The information you receive will help you in understanding the reasons behind your denial. It is at this stage when you want to consider speaking to an attorney if you plan on appealing the denial. We will guide you through the process of the appeal and let you know about your options.
The Reasons for Denied Unemployment in Florida
Unemployment denials will occur for one of several reasons, including:
- Voluntarily leaving work without cause: This is when you stop working and there is no reason for leaving. Things such as quitting your job or not showing up to work fall under this category.
- Discharged for misconduct: You can’t get unemployment benefits if you were released because of misconduct. These include things like sexual harassment, making threats, or doing illegal activities at work.
- Discharged for dishonesty: Anytime your employer finds out that you lied about something, they can fire you. This includes making false statements on your application or stealing. These offenses will lead to a denial of your unemployment claim.
- Severance: This is when you will receive wages or some form of payment for leaving your employer.
- Refusing a suitable offer of work: Your employer can release you if you refuse reasonable alternatives for work. Things such as refusing to come back into the office after remotely working fall under this category.
- Receiving Workers’ Compensation: The receipt of Workers’ Compensation makes you ineligible for unemployment benefits.
- Labor disputes: Any labor dispute makes you unable to receive benefits.
- Voluntary leave of absence: Any voluntary leave of absence from your employer means you can’t get unemployment.
- Suspension: Sometimes, your employer will suspend you for misconduct or violating the terms and conditions of employment. In these situations, you can’t receive benefits.
- Receiving benefits in another state: Those that are getting benefits in another state are automatically ineligible.
- Making fraudulent statements or misrepresentations to get benefits: This is when you knowingly gave false information on your application.
- Outside sources of income: Getting outside sources of income, such as retirement benefits, makes you ineligible for unemployment.
- Not enough wages in the base period: To receive unemployment you must have two or more quarters of paid wages. The base wages are 1.5 times your highest earnings of employment or $3,400.
- Issues with Florida’s unemployment system: Florida pays some of the lowest rates for unemployment benefits in the nation. The DOE has a skills test that you must complete online. The test is not pass/fail, but it is mandatory to complete to get unemployment benefits. Sometimes, there are issues with the website, such as difficulty navigating or you can’t talk to the staff to fix any issues. The DEO uses this to say that you are not serious about filing for unemployment and will deny your claim. They could go one step further by stating that you committed fraud or were paid too much.
Any one or a combination of these reasons is justification for denying your unemployment claim. Lots of applicants will give up and never receive their unemployment benefits.
How to Fight an Unemployment Claim Denial
Time is of the essence if you choose to fight an unemployment claim denial. You have 20 days from the date of notice to file an appeal. The appeal can be submitted online, by mail, or by fax. Your employer also has the right to appeal if you are approved for benefits.
You must fill out all of the forms as to why you disagree with the DEO’s decision. Fighting the denial involves several steps, including:
- A hearing: The hearing is before a Reemployment Appeals Referee over the telephone. All parties and their attorneys are on a conference call. At the hearing, you can call witnesses, issue subpoenas, and submit any documents as evidence. You receive instructions from the DEO about how to submit evidence before the hearing. All of this must be introduced at this time and you can’t introduce new evidence later. The referee will make a decision in writing. The decision will list the facts of the case, discuss the legal issues, and set forth the referee’s conclusions. They have the power to reverse the denial or to affirm the decision.
- Appealing the decision: You can appeal the decision to the Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission. The Commission will look at the records for your initial appeal and review all of the evidence that you, the DEO, and your employer submitted. It sends you a Notice of Docketing. This is not another hearing but a review of the evidence to see if the referee followed the law and applied the procedures correctly. The Commission will issue a written decision and let you know about your right to appeal (a Notice of Docketing). If the decision is not marked as final, you have the option of appealing to them again. All decisions marked as final must be appealed to the Florida District Court of Appeal in your area.
- The Florida District Court of Appeal: The Florida District Court of Appeal is the second highest court in Florida, behind the Florida Supreme Court. They are in Tallahassee, Lakeland, Daytona Beach, Miami, and West Palm Beach. They will look at similar issues as your appeal to the Commission. You will not receive a hearing and can’t present any new evidence. The review focuses only on the evidence and the record from the previous proceedings. You must follow all of the rules and procedures of the court. This is a court of law. The party who files the appeal has the burden of proof to show that the Commission was wrong in its decision. You need an attorney that will guide you through this process. This is the final level of appeal for your unemployment claim in the Florida court system.
We recommend hiring an attorney for denied unemployment claims. The process is confusing and you need experts who will advise you. This increases your chances of success and it helps you to have better outcomes. Call Feldman Legal Group today at (813) 639-9366.
Contact Feldman Legal Group Today
The denial of unemployment benefits is a stressful process. You have several options and should contact the Feldman Legal Group today at (813) 639-9366.
We will review your case and help you through the process of appealing so you can get your unemployment benefits. Don’t be like so many who accept these denials when you can find out about your options.