Since the COVID crisis began tightening its grip, unemployment in Ohio has risen by exponential levels. As Andrew Welsh-Huggins of AP reports, the unemployment rate in the state now sits at 16.8%, the highest in 44 years. If you are one of the many that have lost their job or been asked to work reduced hours due to the pandemic, Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) may be the difference between sinking and swimming.
Unemployment benefits are by no means a free-for-all. Should you need to apply, be prepared to follow some strict requirements concerning eligibility. Typically, all UI claimants in Ohio are required to:
- Have been made unemployed through no-fault of their own
- Be physically able and prepared to find a job and be looking for employment
- Have earned at least $269 per week over a defined one-year period
- Be legally authorized for all of us employment
All that said, the requirements have relaxed because the introduction of the CARES Act of 27 March 2021. While you'll still be expected to meet minimum income requirements, you'll no longer need to fulfill the work-search requirement should your reason for becoming unemployed could be explained by the following: you can either have coronavirus or in quarantine after exposure (the exposure will need to be medically verified); someone inside your household has coronavirus or is in quarantine; you're under orders to shelter in place; you've been laid off; you aren't capable of getting to your place of business because of school closures. Inside a further shake-up to the usual rules, the self-employed, gig workers, and freelancers -who would not normally be eligible for support – are now invited to apply.
Filing for Unemployment
Once you've checked your eligibility, you can move on to filing your application. As UI is retrospective simply to the day you filed the claim (instead of your last day of employment), try to do this as soon as possible after losing your work or reducing your hours, and ideally inside a maximum of 3 calendar times of either. Claims can be made either:
- By calling (877) 644-6562 or TTY (614) 387-8408, Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As the department is currently experiencing unusually high call volumes because of the COVID situation, it's advisable to file online where easy to avoid long wait times. During your application, you'll be asked to provide info associated with both your employment and personal circumstances. Before you start, do such as the Department of Job and Family Services advises and collect the following:
- Your full name, mailing address, contact number, SSN, and e-mail address
- Employment history, to include name, address, and working dates of all employers you've worked for in the last 6 weeks (If you've worked outside Ohio within the last 18 months, you'll need to provide the same for of all out-of-state employers)
- Discharge forms from the military for former service people
- Form-8 and SF-50 form for former government employees
- An explanation of why you left your most recent employer
- Dates of birth, names, and SSN for just about any dependents’ that you're at least 50% financially responsible for
- Alien Number plate for non-US citizens
- Your usual job title/ occupation
The process will take around 25 minutes to accomplish. You don't have to complete it in a single sitting, but bear in mind that failing to complete a claim within Two days of starting will result in everything that's already been entered being wiped.
Maximum Benefits Amounts
Within Five days of receiving your claim, the Department of Job and Family Services will issue a fiscal determination stating the amount of benefit you'll receive should your claim be successful. The amount will be determined by your past income, along with how many dependents you have. Weekly benefits are limited to $480 for those with no dependents, $582 for all those with 1-2 dependents, and $647 for those with 3 or more dependents.
Typically, you wouldn't be paid for the first week of unemployment. However, now that the CARES Act has removed the 'waiting week', you will be paid from the start of your claim. 'till the end of July, you'll also get an additional payment of $600 each week on top of what the state pays. The payment has been introduced through the CARES Act, that also sees the usual time limit for claiming benefits lift from 26 weeks to 39 weeks. Payment is created by either bank deposit or by debit card, depending on your preference.
Once you've filed your initial claim, you'll need to begin certifying your claim weekly. Do this even while your claim has been reviewed to prevent any potential difficulties with payment. Typically, the Department of Job and Family Services is to you within 2 weeks with confirmation of their decision. However, due to the record quantity of new claims currently being received, expect so that it is around 3 weeks before you hear back. Once they've confirmed eligibility, the department will issue a Notice of Determination. Payment should follow within a few days.
If your claim is denied, you can appeal the determination. Appeals can be created online at the Department of Job and Family Services website and can need to be completed within A 3 week period of the mailing date of the determination letter. The letter will include full instructions on what evidence must be provided in order to progress your appeal. Once you've filed the appeal, you'll receive a hearing date at which the case will be reviewed. Appeals made following the initial hearing will first are necessary to the Board of Review, and lastly to the court. Continue to certify your unemployment claims weekly when you await a decision on the appeal. Should you win the appeal, the department will only backdate payment for the weeks that a claim was made.