Getting an unemployment check in florida is frustrating ordeal for many electricity vocabulary words

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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.

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.

Florida’s "recipiency rate" — the proportion of unemployed people who actually receive jobless benefits— is 16 percent, the country’s lowest. Only one in three applicants for unemployment compensation in Florida receives any money, ranking the state dead last among the 50 states.

"The cumulative impact of these changes is that the process of filing an initial claim for benefits is much more difficult for the average Floridian," the National Employment Law Project wrote in a recent complaint to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The unemployment compensation system is designed as a form of insurance that businesses pay into to help fund temporary assistance for employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. In Florida, the average weekly check is about $230. Currently, about 800,000 are unemployed.

Scott and the Legislature overhauled Florida’s system in 2011, adding a long list of requirements and making all applicants apply online. The law required applicants to take a 45-question skills assessment and contact five employers every week and reduced the maximum number of weeks of assistance from 26 to 23.

A Times/Herald reporter tried several times over the course of a week to reach the state’s customer service department for jobless claims. Several times an automated message said, "We are currently experiencing high call volumes. An agent is not available at this time," and then the line went dead.

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.

He applied online shortly after being laid off from his position with Shah, Drotos & Associates, a Pompano Beach engineering consultancy. He was told he was eligible for about $275 per week, and waited patiently for his first check. After three weeks, there was no check and he tried to call to find out about the delay. It took him several days to reach an agent, who then informed him that he was required to fill out an assessment to measure his skills.

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 business taxes that fund the program.

Federal data show, however, that more than 250,000 Floridians have been kicked out of the program during Scott’s tenure because their benefits ran out. And hundreds of thousands of additional applicants have been denied access to benefits because they did not meet strict new requirements that Scott signed into law.