COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohioans looking to get unemployment benefits may have fewer options for how they receive them, depending on which bank they use.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder announced a change, which went into effect Thursday, on how the agency would disperse unemployment benefits. The alteration was made to follow a new fraud deterrence requirement from Senate Bill 302, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law earlier in 2023.
Damschroder specified that the change specifically deals with how unemployment benefits are paid out to people whose claims were approved.
“If their bank doesn’t have a physical location in Ohio, they must be paid by debit card,” Damschroder said.
This change also affects Ohioans who use banks without any physical locations at all, ODJFS Director of Communications Bill Teets confirmed. Online banking providers like Ally, Chime and Revolut — with which customers use smartphone apps or websites for all account management — are no longer eligible for direct deposit of unemployment payments to an account.
“If a new claimant only uses a web-based banking option, and that bank has no physical presence in Ohio, the claimant would choose instead to be paid through a U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa debit card,” Teets said. “They automatically qualify for this prepaid Visa card — no credit check or bank account is required. Their benefit payments will be automatically deposited to the card.”
The U.S. Bank debit card offered by ODJFS can be used to make purchases, withdraw cash and pay bills anywhere Visa cards are accepted.
The other option that Ohioans using online or out-of-state banking have, is to make a new account. When NBC4 asked if a fresh checking account with a physically in-state bank would trigger any of ODJFS’s indicators of fraud for a claimant, Teets said that it wouldn’t, even if opened during the application process.
“An existing claimant can also change their payment option without concern,” Teets said. “They will get a notice that the banking information was changed, but it won’t hold up payment.”
The new requirement for direct deposit affects anyone who makes a new application for unemployment benefits. As of Thursday, current claimants were still able to receive direct deposits to out-of-state or online banks. However, ODJFS said if they renew a claim, open an additional claim or update the information on their existing claim, they would lose the option for direct deposit without an in-state bank.
As of Monday, around 38,000 Ohioans were receiving unemployment benefits, according to ODJFS.