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Florida unemployment: If you get benefits, get ready for the ‘quarter change’

On Thursday, many residents will have to update their information to claim weeks of unemployment assistance.
In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, a help wanted sign hangs on the door of a Target store in Uniontown, Pa.
In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, a help wanted sign hangs on the door of a Target store in Uniontown, Pa. [ GENE J. PUSKAR | AP ]
Published Sep. 30, 2020
Updated Sep. 30, 2020

If you experienced a hiccup in your unemployment benefits in July, brace yourself, because it might happen again.

Starting Thursday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will require some 400,000 unemployment claimants to log in and reaffirm that they’re eligible to receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a process known as the “quarter change.”

It’s supposed to be a regular and routine part of the unemployment process. But with record numbers of residents signing up for benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, little of Florida’s unemployment process has been regular and routine, with thousands of claimants complaining about a state system they say is outdated and understaffed.

The last quarter change occurred July 1, and added another hurdle for people concerned they might not get their benefits. To prevent confusion this time, the state sent reminder emails and letters to affected claimants earlier this week, and will do so again on Thursday.

Related: Meet the Florida woman who went on a hunger strike to protest the state's unemployment system

The quarter change involves filling out questionnaire that requires claimants of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to state how much they made during a recent quarterly window of a yearlong “base period” — which in this case is July 1, 2019, through June 30.

Claimants must log into Florida’s unemployment system, CONNECT, where they’ll be asked to answer questions about how much money they earned during specific time windows, and how they earned it. If they’re required to reapply for state unemployment, they’ll see a link to do so. If they don’t fill out the quarter change application, they run the risk of losing unclaimed weeks of benefits.

“No matter what day of the year it is, no matter what quarter it is, DEO does not pay you reemployment assistance benefits of any kind without requesting your benefits,” said department spokeswoman Tiffany Vause.

The Department of Economic Opportunity has put together guide sheets and videos about the quarter change process for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients. Find them at floridajobs.org.

The next quarter change is scheduled for Jan. 1.

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