COVID-19: Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits

 In Benefits, Employees, Human Resources, Managing COVID-19, Payroll, Trending Topic

An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. Unemployment benefits will be available for eligible individuals who are requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, the waiting period for eligible Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits will be waived.

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released a series of questions and answers regarding the expansion of Ohio’s unemployment benefits. You can reference the site directly here  and you can also reference it below.

Question 1: How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

Answer: File online at unemployment.ohio.gov

Question 2: Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to shut down operations?

Answer: Updated: An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. Unemployment benefits will be available for eligible individuals who are requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, the waiting period for eligible Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits will be waived.

Question 3: If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Answer: Yes, if the employees are otherwise eligible. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 4: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment taxes increase?

Answer: For contributory employers, charges during Ohio’s emergency declaration period will be mutualized. Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.

Question 5: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to the mutual account?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine allows unemployment benefit charges to be mutualized for contributory employers. In addition, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will waive penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 6: If an asymptomatic employee imposes a self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual-not the employer-is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

Question 7: If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine states that employees who are quarantined are considered to be unemployed.

Question 8: If the coronavirus creates a situation that causes an employer to submit quarterly reports and/or payments late, will the filing deadline be extended?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine waives penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 9: What is unemployment insurance impact on tipped workers?

Answer: That depends how the employer reported the employee’s wages. If the employer reported tips as part of the employees wage, it would be reflected on their tax reporting and therefore the UI benefit would be based on wage with tips. If the employer did not include tips in the wage, the employee will need to  file an affidavit with their tipped wages for ODJFS to review.

Question 10: Are self-employed individuals who have experienced a downturn in their businesses due to COVID-19 eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: It depends. Self-employed individuals who have been solely self-employed for the last year or more may not meet the monetary requirements to establish a claim because the wages they earned from self-employment are not considered “covered” under unemployment law.

Question 11: Do you need to have been working for the past 20 weeks to apply?

Answer: No. Individuals must have at least 20 weeks of employment and an average weekly wage of $269 during the base period of the claim. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters at the time the claim is filed. (Claims filed in March would be calculated on the four quarters beginning October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. For a detailed explanation of the base period, see pages 14-16 of the Worker’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance.

Question 12: How should tipped workers calculate their weekly wages?

Answer: Tips should be included in reported earnings. Employers report quarterly earnings, which include the tips that employees report for each pay period. Those reports are used to determine the claimant’s average weekly wage.

Question 13: Will child care workers be compensated if those close?

Answer: Individuals who are laid off because of a COVID-19-related businesses closure may be eligible for benefits. Some child care facilities may be affiliated with churches or other organizations that are not required by law to pay unemployment insurance taxes. In those cases, the individual may not be in “covered employment” and may not be able to establish a valid claim.

Question 14: If you are working carryout/fewer hours, can you apply?

Answer: Individuals who are partially unemployed due to lack of work may be eligible for benefits. Any earnings from employment during the week claimed may reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings equal to or less than 20% of the claimant’s weekly benefit amount will not reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings over 20% of the weekly benefit amount will reduce the benefit payment dollar for dollar. Earnings equal to or over the benefit amount will result in no benefits for that week.

Question 15: How long can a person receive benefits?

Answer: Currently, claimants may receive up to 26 weeks of benefits a year.

Question 16: Can you receive unemployment benefits if you are taking care of a sick relative or loved one?

Answer: At this time, no. If asymptomatic individuals remove themselves from employment – as opposed to an employer or medical professional removing them from employment – they are not be eligible for benefits.

Question 17: Is it possible to apply for unemployment benefits in person?

Answer: Ohio does not currently have walk-in unemployment offices. Applications can be filed online at unemployment.ohio.gov or by phone at (877) OHIO-JOB (1-877-644-6562) or TTY at (888) 642-8203, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Question 18: How much can I expect to receive in benefits?

Answer: The minimum weekly benefit amount an individual can qualify for in 2020 is $134, based on an average weekly base-period wage of $269. The maximum benefit in 2020 is $480, although that could be higher if someone has dependents.

Question 19: If any claimants were approaching the maximum 26 weeks of benefits when this crisis hit, are they eligible for an extension?

Answer: Currently, we have no extension of benefits in place.

Question 20: If you have two jobs and you’ve lost one of them, are you eligible for unemployment?

Answer: Unemployment compensation is designed to be a partial replacement of earnings rather than a total compensation for lost wages. An individual may be considered partially unemployed due to the loss of one job, but eligibility for payments will be dependent on earnings for each week of benefits claimed. If earnings for the week are 20% or less of the claimant’s weekly benefit amount, then the full weekly amount may be payable. Earnings over 20% of the weekly benefit amount will reduce the payment dollar for dollar. If the weekly earnings are equal to or greater than the weekly benefit amount, then no benefit will be payable.

Question 21: What are the unemployment call center hours?

Answer: Call center hours have been extended from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, until further notice. For faster service when applying for benefits, please visit unemployment.ohio.gov.

Apply for Benefits

Ohio has two ways to file an application for Unemployment Insurance Benefits:

  • Online
    File online at http://unemployment.ohio.gov, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Service may be limited during nightly system updating. Check the website for available services. Please be sure to follow the instructions.  If you do not have access to a computer, visit your local library or OhioMeansJobs Center where computers are available for public use.  Please note that your local library may be closed or have reduced hours due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).  A list of OhioMeansJobs Centers can be found at: http://jfs.ohio.gov/owd/wioa/map.stm.
  • Telephone
    Call toll-free 1-877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408, (excluding holidays) Monday through Friday 7 AM – 7 PM, and Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM.

    
 To apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits, you will need:  

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver’s license or state ID number
  • Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address
  • Name, address, telephone number, and dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past 6 weeks of employment
  • The reason you became unemployed from each employer
  • Dependents’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth
  • If claiming dependents, your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and birth date
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, alien registration number and expiration date
  • Your regular occupation and job skillsAlso:
  • If you had out-of-state employment, have worked for the federal government, or are separated from military service, more information is required, including:
    • Form DD-214, member 4 copy (for military service)
    • SF-8 or SF-50 form (for federal government employment)       


Once your application has been filed:   

  • You will receive further information by mail or e-mail.  E-mail will be sent from OJI@odjfs.state.oh.us.
  • Your claim will be assigned to a Processing Center, based on the last four digits of the your Social Security number. Click here for a list of Processing Centers by Social Security number.
  • If filing online and you need your Personal Identification Number (PIN) reset, please call toll-free 1-866-962-4064.
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