Ohio Working to Clear Backlog of 134,000 Unemployment Appeals
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is working through a backlog of 134,000 unemployment claims appeals, vast majority of which are more than three weeks old.
“Over the last 18 months, we processed more than 6.6 million initial claims and paid billions of dollars in traditional and pandemic-related unemployment compensation payments to 2.4 million Ohioans,” said director Matt Damschroder in a statement. “Naturally, that unprecedented volume has also resulted in greater numbers of appeals, which we are working to process.”
Claimants or employers who disagree with the agency’s initial decision about an unemployment claim can appeal and required a redetermination decision. Job and Family Services can then issue its decision – which can also be appealed – or end the matter to the independent Unemployment Compensation Review Commission, which holds hearing on disputed unemployment compensation issues.
As of Sept. 13, the agency had 134,00 pending appeals for both traditional unemployment and pandemic unemployment assistance claims, with 117,000 more than 21 days old.
That figure is down from earlier in the summer, when there were 177,500 appeals on July 29.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has processed more than 368,000 redeterminations, far and above the typical pre-pandemic annual volume of 45,000.
The department, Damschroder said, is tracking progress on clearing the backlog and conducting biweekly forecasting.
“Based on current volume of appeals, rate of processing, projected staffing and overtime levels, and other factors, the department is currently forecasting that most redeterminations will be issued by early December” he said.
In addition, progress is continuing on reimbursing those whose suffered from “account takeovers” – where criminals used a legitimate claimants’s account to route payments to a different bank account – and processing non-fraud overpayment waivers.
“Due to the volume of claims over the course of the pandemic, entirely new pandemic-related benefits, and an influx of individuals unfamiliar with unemployment, there were many instances of overpayment made,” Damschroder explained. “It has led to the creation of a process that allows claimants with non-fraud overpayments that they received at no fault of their own to be absolved from repaying those funds to the state. The department has been accepting waiver applications, and is currently system-testing the approval process, as well as the process to reimburse those who may have already paid back a portion of the overpayment.”
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.