Ohio adds unemployment security feature; says previously denied PUA claims may now be eligible

Credit: Josh Sweigart

Credit: Josh Sweigart

Ohio unemployment officials are implementing new security features to their claims process this week as they notify thousands of previously denied applicants that they may qualify for expanded unemployment.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services on Monday announced it is contacting roughly 5,000 people who were denied Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims prior to February 2021. ODJFS is informing them they may be eligible for benefits retroactively because of additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor in February expanded eligibility for PUA to include workers:

- Previously receiving traditional unemployment benefits who refuse to return to work or refuse an offer of work because the workplace is not in compliance with health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.

- Who provide services to an educational institution or educational service agency and are fully or partially unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19.

- Who are laid off or had their work hours reduced as a direct result of COVID-19.

“As we continue to work through the unprecedented level of activity cause by the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to reach back out to those who may have been eligible under the expanded eligibility,” said Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder in a release Monday.

ODJFS has started notifying potentially impacted individuals and sending them worksheets to help them re-apply.

Congress created and funded the PUA program for workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who were ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits, including self-employed workers, 1099 tax filers and part-time workers. The program ended Sept. 4, 2021.

OH|ID account needed for claims

Meanwhile starting Wednesday, Nov. 17, any Ohioan filing for unemployment must use an OH|ID account to access their unemployment account online.

OH|ID was developed by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services and is used by many state agencies. It allows people to use a single username and password to access various state programs.

Claimants will need both an OH|ID account through Ohid.ohio.gov as well as a traditional unemployment account. Claimants must use the same email address for both accounts. OH|ID is not used in the federally funded PUA program administered by ODJFS.

“The use of an OH|ID is another way to improve the security and privacy associated with Ohio’s unemployment system, and better aligns us with other state agencies using the same credentialing,” said Damschroder.

The new process comes as ODJFS works to address findings that Ohio unemployment paid over $475 million in unemployment funds to criminals and over-paid another $3.3 billion last year.

Ohio DAS Director Kathleen C. Madden said OH|ID has more than a million users and has received national recognition for information security and privacy.

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