Ohio Unemployment

Unemployment Claims Held Up as ODJFS Seeks Federal Guidance

Updated 1:10 p.m. with statement from the U.S. Department of Labor
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — New requirements to unemployment programs and benefits issued through the new coronavirus relief bill will need to be factored into Ohio’s unemployment system before benefits can be paid.

Meanwhile, Ohioans are left waiting for their benefits that were extended.

On Tuesday, The Business Journal received several emails from readers stating they haven’t been able to apply for claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for the week of Jan. 4. One reader stated her claim status hadn’t changed, yet her payment was denied Dec. 19, approved and paid Dec. 28, then denied again Jan. 2.

In an email response to questions, Bret Crow with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services stated no new PUA claims can be accepted currently until the department receives more detailed guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on implementing provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

“We are working behind the scenes to set up our systems to pay individuals as quickly as possible once we receive those final details,” Crow said. “Those eligible will receive all benefits they are entitled to, retroactive to Dec. 27.”

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services did not know when payments would start going out, Crow said Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Department of Labor confirmed that retroactive payments will be made to eligible recipients, but could not provide a timeline for when such payment would be made.

“Unemployment insurance is a federal-state partnership, and as such, the U.S. Department of Labor cannot provide insight into the programmatic details or timelines of a particular state,” the spokesman said. “All states have been facing unrelenting demands and volume since the start of the pandemic, and all states are working quickly to implement or extend these programs.”

For some claimants, that could mean weeks of no unemployment benefits, creating “a recipe for disaster,” one reader wrote, with children out of school because of COVID-19.

ODJFS reported for the week ended Dec. 26 new unemployment claims dropped for the second week in a row to 28,790 claims. Some readers who have contacted The Business Journal counter that the numbers aren’t down, but reflect the claims currently being denied.

Crow noted pandemic unemployment assistance benefits ended Dec. 26, so the numbers reported last week were during the time when PUA recipients could still receive benefits under the Cares Act. 

“So, for other reasons, initial and continued claims were down,” he said.

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