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134K Ohio Workers Will Soon Get Pandemic Unemployment Relief

a photo of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Dan Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services administers unemployment in Ohio.

134,000 gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed Ohioans who have been waiting on their unemployment claims for more than a month will now get paid.

A weekend of upgrades required by new federal mandates have allowed the release of those claims, made by Ohioans who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment but were in the federally funded pandemic unemployment assistance program. 

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Henderson, in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, February 3, 2020.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Henderson, in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, February 3, 2020.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Henderson said this helps most of one particular group: “approximately 150,000 existing claimants who have remaining benefit entitlement on their accounts, but who have been unable to claim the up to seven weeks of benefits that they have until we were able to get our programming in place in response to the new law.”

ODJFS can also start processing new PUA claims, for the first time since the program expired on December 26. A federal law passed late last year extends the PUA program till March 14 and adds in $300 in supplemental checks.

This is not related to fraud investigations in the PUA program, which has been going on for months.

The state has flagged 796,000 claims as possibly fraudulent - more than half of the 1.4 million claims filed for PUA since the program was created last year as a way for the federal government to help people who lost jobs that don't qualify for traditional unemployment, such as hairstylists, bartenders, restaurant workers and small business owners. Last week it was announced the.state paid out $330 million to 56,000 fraudulent claims just in December.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.