TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Florida’s jobless are going to have to jump through a few new hoops if they’re planning on applying for unemployment benefits.

Several new requirements go into effect Monday under a law passed this year to help reduce unemployment taxes paid by businesses.

First off unemployed workers will have to use the Internet to file initial and continued claims. That change alone is expected to save the state $4.7 million annually. They’ll also have to complete a skills review over the Internet to qualify for benefits.

Also, if claimants’ severance pay for a week equals or exceeds their benefits for that week they will not get the compensation. Severance pay, though, will not affect their total benefits.

Those receiving benefits will be required to contact at least five potential employers or else meet with a state reemployment services representative each week.

Last month Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law which scaled back the number of weeks for state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 23 weeks, causing emergency federal benefits to kick in more quickly and essentially shaving three weeks off the total run of benefits.

Under the measure, the number of weeks of unemployment insurance available would gradually decline further once the unemployment rate dips below 10.5 percent, bottoming out at 12 weeks if the unemployment rate hits 5 percent.

The current maximum unemployment benefit dollar amount is $275 a week, already near the bottom of states. Federal statistics show the state’s average weekly benefit is just over $230.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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