Florida's program for jobless benefits plagued by delays, denials
When 65-year-old Raymond Togyer isn't polishing his resume or cold calling potential employers, he's spending hours trying, unsuccessfully, to navigate Florida's labyrinthine unemployment compensation system.
Togyer — who was laid off for the first time in his adult life from a high-paying civil engineering job in June — has spent the last seven weeks sending and resending letters, staying on hold for hours and checking state websites, all to no avail.
He is one of hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Floridians flummoxed by what has become the most tightfisted unemployment compensation system in the nation.
"They told me that I was eligible and that I was going to be getting $275 a week," said Togyer, of Fort Lauderdale. "That was seven weeks ago. To this day I have not received anything. I'm draining my savings to pay my bills."
Critics say Gov. Rick Scott and Florida's Legislature are behind a multipronged effort to restrict payments to eligible Floridians. A required 45-question "skills review" and an online-only application system have combined to restrict thousands of applicants from receiving aid. The U.S. Labor Department is investigating the complaints. A spokesman told the Times/Herald that Florida is cooperating with the inquiry, but would not comment further.