COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits that is due some Ohioans is one step closer to being paid out.
The Department of Job and Family Services announced on Monday morning that it completed system upgrades over the weekend related to the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program so that eligible Ohioans can submit applications for and receive those benefits.
The department estimates the benefits are available to 134,000 residents. The original program, under the CARES Act, expired on Dec. 26, but it was extended and amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed the next day.
“Time has been of the essence as we worked to implement the programming necessary to provide these benefits,” Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Henderson said in a news release. “Those eligible will receive all benefits they are entitled to, in addition to the new weekly $300 supplemental payments available to all unemployment insurance beneficiaries through recent federal legislation.”
The new program provides up to an additional 11 weeks of federal assistance, or 50 weeks total, on top of state benefits for eligible individuals.
Last week, Henderson and Gov. Mike DeWine announced a program in which the state is bringing in help from the private sector to study various problems in the department. They will be focusing on issues related to the timely processing of unemployment claims, the state’s call center and fraud detection.
DeWine said the unemployment program was overwhelmed by the 3.6 million claims that have been filed since the pandemic began, and the state is in the process of updating its online platform for submitting and processing claims.
The increase in claims has been accompanied by a spike in fraudulent claims, with victims reporting that their Social Security numbers and other personal information was used to file for unemployment. The state is in the process of investigating some 160,000 claims flagged for potential fraud.