Ohio Unemployment

Ohio Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Programs End Sept. 4

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As federal stimulus legislation that created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits ends, PUA and PEUC programs are ending in Ohio on Sept. 4, reports Matt Damschroder, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Pending benefit applications and appeals for weeks on or before Sept. 4 will continue to be processed and considered after the expiration of the programs, according to a press release. New PUA and PEUC applications will be accepted through Oct. 2, but only for weeks of unemployment prior to Sept. 4. Ohioans in this situation can contact ODJFS for staff assistance.

PUA benefits were distributed to eligible Ohioans who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits during the pandemic, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors. As of July 31, more than 200,000 Ohioans were receiving PUA benefits.

Another 85,000 were receiving PEUC benefits, which provided additional weeks of traditional unemployment benefits for those who remain unemployed after exhausting their benefits.

Since July, ODJFS notified some 700,000 Ohioans with nonfraud overpayments that they may be eligible for a waiver if the overpayment wasn’t their fault, including more than 73,000 traditional unemployment claimants and 630,000 PUA claimants.

About 18% of those contacted have completed applications for waivers.

“This application process will ensure that individuals whose overpayments were not their fault will not be required to pay for mistakes they didn’t make,” Damschroder said. “I encourage everyone who received a notice to follow the instructions for completing a waiver request.”

Victims of account takeovers – which occur when criminals gain access to an account and change the banking information to divert payments – will soon be able to request replacement payments through a formal application process, he added.

“The number one thing people can do to protect themselves from becoming victims is to practice good cybersecurity,” he said. “Carefully inspect links in emails or texts before clicking on them, regularly check your account, and know that ODJFS will never contact you asking for your username of password.”

In an effort to better detect and combat fraud, the state in January enlisted the help of a Public-Private Partnership Team composed of insurance, banking and other industry experts. Some of the measures implemented since then include enhanced identity verification for new and continued claims, multi-factor authentication for those logging into the system and other cyberfraud defense system deployments.

“We are fighting a constant battle against foreign and domestic criminals using increasingly sophisticated methods to attempt to defraud Ohio’s unemployment system,” Damschroder said. “In addition to stealing millions, their constant attacks clog our system and ensnare legitimate Ohioans, as we attempt to protect the unemployment system.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.