Some 48K Ohioans must repay ‘overpaid’ unemployment benefits

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Credit: Paul Sakuma

Credit: Paul Sakuma

State: Nearly 50,000 Ohioans were paid more than they should have been.

Ohio government has told nearly 6% of the nearly 800,000 Ohioans who have been paid regular unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that they have been overpaid.

And they are expected to reimburse the state for that overpayment, unless the payment was a result of a mistake by the state.

That’s about 48,000 claimants in all.

“To preserve the integrity of the program, federal and state law require states to seek reimbursement of any overpaid amounts resulting from claimant error,” said Thomas Betti, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

ExploreParents may be eligible for federal coronavirus funds

“As stewards of taxpayer money, we have an obligation to make sure those dollars go to Ohioans who are entitled to them and that employers are taxed only for appropriately paid benefits,” Betti added. “This primarily affects ‘reimbursing employers’ – including nonprofit organizations and churches – which pay unemployment benefits directly, instead of paying quarterly unemployment taxes.”

Asked if the state was taking claimants to court in some instances, ODJFS spokesman Bret Crow said, “Future benefits may be offset to recoup the overpayment and/or collection methods utilized.”

But the main goal is to “is to err on the side of Ohioans who need assistance during the pandemic,” Betti said in an email Tuesday.

In most cases, overpayments are the result of claimants not reporting or under-reporting earnings during the week claimed, the state said. A smaller number are mistakes made by ODJFS staff with the massive influx of claims, Betti said.

Said Betti: “We are not requiring repayment in those instances.”

As of Sept. 3, the number of new claims for unemployment benefits filed in Ohio over the previous 24 weeks -- nearly 1.7 million -- was more than the combined total of those filed during the last four years, the state has said.

Ohioans who believe they were sent notices in error can appeal. They have 21 days to file their appeal online, via fax, or through mail from the date the notice was sent.

What to do

Ohioans who receive overpayment notices can visit https://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/RepayOverpayment.stm to pay by bank draft, credit card or mail.

Those with questions about making a payment can call (614) 995-5691, option No. 3.