COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is urging all Ohioans who have received notices regarding overpayment of unemployment compensation benefits to appeal their cases if they believe the notices were sent in error.
“It’s no secret that despite the state’s Herculean efforts, it was crushed with the unprecedented volume of new claims flooding in simultaneously,” Yost said. “We will aggressively pursue any cases of fraud, but we want to make sure any non-fraudulent cases referred to us for collection have been thoroughly reviewed and appealed as is your right.”
Ohioans have 21 days to file their appeal online, via fax, or through mail from the date the notice was sent. Do not let the clock run out on your right to appeal. The Attorney General’s collections team will carefully review post adjudicated cases to ensure taxpayers and their dollars are fairly protected.
For information about the appeals process and how to apply visit www.unemployment.ohio.gov.
Since March 15, new claims have inundated the unemployment system at a level not seen since The Great Depression. People waited weeks and months to have their claims processed and money disbursed. And an increasing number have been ordered to give it all back.
According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, since March 15, 23,597 people have accounts listed as overpaid for reasons other than fraud -- about 3.5% of the people who have received benefits.
In the first quarter of 2020, ODJFS had 7,527 non-fraud overpayment cases and 1,347 fraud cases. Between March 15 and May 30, 1,292,413 Ohioans applied for unemployment insurance – as many as applied over the previous three years combined.
By May 23, about half of those people had received their first payment.
ODJFS Spokesman Bret Crow said the program has to continue flagging erroneous claims, despite widespread hardship.
“We are charged by the U.S. Dept. of Labor with maintaining program integrity through audits that judge our ability to distribute the proper amount of benefits to those eligible,” he said via email to Eye on Ohio. “When an overpayment occurs, we owe it to those who need these benefits and Ohio taxpayers to ensure unemployment compensation payments are accurate.”
“Additionally, he wrote, “if benefits are provided to individuals who are not eligible for them, employers can be charged for those benefits, and this can lead to an increase in their tax rates. When so many businesses are struggling, the last thing we want is to do is increase their tax burden.”
Typically, when workers lose their jobs and file for unemployment, their most recent employer pays part of the tab through increased unemployment insurance tax. When Gov. Mike DeWine ordered restaurants and bars to close on March 15, he declared that the burden for increased unemployment taxes would be “mutualized.” An ODJFS pamphlet says the “mutualized” fund is fed by a tax on all employers, and covers employment claims that can’t be attributed to any individual employer.
Another option is to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. PUA is part of a federal program extending unemployment benefits to people who wouldn’t typically qualify, including independent contractors and people whose weekly income was under the UI threshold.
To avoid further bogging down the old and overwhelmed unemployment computer system, ODJFS launched a separate online system for people to apply for PUA. That system went live on May 15. By May 30, it logged 209,007 applications.