This week, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) called on Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to expedite the processing of waivers for Ohioans who were flagged for unemployment overpayments.
“More than half a million people are currently either unable to access their benefits entirely or are having money deducted each week from their payments because of a department error,” Fedor said in a letter to Governor DeWine this week. “I implore you to step in and order ODJFS to begin processing overpayment waivers that are just gathering dust while people are suffering.”
Approximately 700,000 Ohioans with non-fraud overpayments were notified by ODJFS that they may be eligible for a waiver if the overpayment was not their fault, including more than 73,000 traditional unemployment claimants and 630,000 PUA claimants. To date, none of these waiver applications have been processed. ODJFS has not started processing waiver applications, but they hope to begin in mid-September.
“I have heard from Ohioans who have been waiting for more than five months to receive their unemployment payments, and they are losing hope,” Fedor said. “People are losing their cars, their utilities are being shut off, and they are unable to accept jobs because they can’t afford to pay for a phone or transportation. Governor DeWine needs to understand what Ohioans are experiencing and address our failing social safety net. I want to make sure struggling Ohioans know that they are not forgotten.”
Additionally, many Ohioans’ unemployment accounts have been taken over – a form of fraud when criminals gain access to a legitimate claimant’s account, change the bank information and divert the unemployment payments to another bank account. The process for Ohioans whose unemployment accounts have been fraudulently taken over to request replacement payments is expected to be released mid-September.
“Ohioans should not have to pay for mistakes made by the department,” Fedor said. “If you have received an overpayment, even if you already paid back the money or are no longer filing for unemployment, you are eligible for a waiver. I urge Ohioans who are affected to apply for a waiver as soon as possible to avoid additional complications in the future.”
A copy of the letter can be found here