Roberta May, 50, of Palm Harbor, has been trying for two months to add herself to the state’s unemployment compensation rolls. After her customer service job in Oldsmar was shipped to the Philippines in June, she immediately applied for jobless benefits.
She said her file got passed along to an adjudicator who would not return her phone calls.
After spending hours on hold and sending several unanswered emails to DEO to find out about the application, May learned Tuesday that her file had been passed on to another adjudicator who was starting over from scratch.
“They’ve lost all the information they had a month ago,” she said.
The processing delays and understaffed phone lines come at a time when Florida’s unemployment insurance program is deeply in the red. Because the demand for benefits has outpaced the revenue coming in from business taxes, Florida has had to borrow more than $2.7 billion from the federal government. That debt load increased this year when the Legislature approved $800 million in tax cuts on the businesses taxes that fund the program.
May is in debt as well. She has run through her savings and has had to borrow money from her parents and her boyfriend to stave off homelessness.
“I would’ve just been out on the street if I didn’t have help from the parents,” she said, fighting back tears. “You know these days, with everybody struggling, it doesn’t take much.”