Unemployed Ohioans may be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of benefits


"This is the cash that’s going to keep their heads above water for now," said the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Some Ohioans could be eligible for up to 20 weeks of additional unemployment benefits.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced Monday that Extended Benefits (EB) will be available to Ohioans who exhaust both the maximum 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).

“We will soon begin notifying individuals who may qualify for this additional assistance to instruct them how to apply,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “Although high unemployment rates are never welcome news, we are happy that we can offer this extra support for Ohioans who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who are having difficulty finding work.”

The additional weeks are possible because Ohio’s insured unemployment rate exceeded a minimum threshold. The insured unemployment rate is a measure of the number of people receiving unemployment benefits as a percentage of the labor force.

Lisa Hamler-Fuggitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said unemployment compensation benefits are a lifeline for more than one million Ohioans who have lost their jobs. She said extending benefits is the right thing to do.

“Without unemployment compensation, they’re not going to be able to pay the rent or pay the mortgage, keep a roof over their head, let alone keep food on their table,” Hamler-Fuggitt said. “And we’re at risk now of folks maybe losing their cars through repossession, so this is the cash that’s going to keep their heads above water for now.”

Michael Shields, a researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, said the more urgent need is for Congress to extend the pandemic unemployment compensation supplements. Those $600-a-week payments are set to expire July 25.

“This is critical for business revenues as well,” Shields said. “Businesses get their revenue from people going out and spending in the economy. So we have to support those families of workers who have been displaced and we have to support the spending that is going to allow businesses to recover from this as well.”

The Senate is in recess for two weeks. Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said he plans to revisit the question of another coronavirus relief bill when senators return.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law March 27, created three new unemployment programs:

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to many who, historically, have not qualified for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers, 1099 tax filers, part-time workers and those who lack sufficient work history.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides an additional $600 per week through July 25 to existing benefit amounts for those in multiple programs, including regular unemployment benefits, PUA, Trade benefits and SharedWork Ohio benefits.

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides up to 13 weeks of additional benefits for Ohioans who exhaust their maximum 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits on or after July 1, 2019. This program is available through Dec. 26, 2020.

According to ODJFS, individuals who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits are potentially eligible for PEUC. If they exhaust PEUC, they are potentially eligible for Extended Benefits. If they exhaust all three programs, they are potentially eligible for PUA.

While the Extended Benefit program is in effect, individuals who initially received regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for a total of 59 weeks of benefits and individuals who received PUA but not regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for a total of 46 weeks of benefits.

 For more information, visit unemployment.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility.

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