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Out of work because of coronavirus? Here's how the federal stimulus affects Ohio unemployment

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 4/10/2020 Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer
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Correction: An earlier version incorrectly listed when self-employed individuals could apply for unemployment because of incorrect information provided by state officials.

COLUMBUS - Applying for unemployment in Ohio? Changes signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday could increase how much money you might receive. 

With at least 430,000 unemployed workers in the state and an unemployment rate that's likely around 7.4%, many Ohioans are suffering the effects of the novel coronavirus-imposed closures and bans. 

With many Texas furloughed or laid off in recent days, the Texas Workforce Commission is processing an unprecedented number of unemployment applications. © Getty Images With many Texas furloughed or laid off in recent days, the Texas Workforce Commission is processing an unprecedented number of unemployment applications.

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The $2 trillion federal stimulus package included some relief for those workers. Here's how you might benefit.

Am I eligible to apply for unemployment compensation?

You are eligible if you were required to be isolated or quarantined by a medical professional, local health authority or employer because of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. You do not need to actually be diagnosed with COVID-19 to receive benefits. 

 You're also eligible if your employer shut down operations due to the novel coronavirus. 

Am I eligible for benefits if I self-quarantine?

In most cases, no. Those who are working from home are not eligible for unemployment. If an employer required workers to stay home but did not offer an option to work remotely or online, the employees might be eligible for unemployment.

How long can I receive unemployment compensation?

Ohio limits payments to a maximum of 26 weeks. Changes approved by Congress add another 13 weeks of payments after state payments end, for a maximum of 39 weeks.

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How much money could I receive each week?

You are eligible for up to half of your average weekly wage over 20 weeks. Ohioans are eligible for a maximum of $480 a week through state benefits. 

Workers can receive an extra $600 a week through the end of July thanks to the federal stimulus package. That means Ohioans could receive up to $1,080 a week in unemployment compensation.

You must have made at least $269 a week to be eligible. Here's an estimate of what you might receive from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. 

I receive a 1099 tax form. Can I apply for unemployment benefits?

Yes, thanks to the new federal stimulus.

Right now, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' system isn't set up to accept claims from self-employed people. The department is creating a new system, which should be set up by mid-May. 

Payments will be retroactive to when you were laid off, as early as Jan. 27. 

Will I get a federal stimulus check?

Congress approved up to $1,200 per person and up to $2,400 for most married couples filing jointly. The amount depends on your total income in 2019 or 2018, the last tax return you filed. 

When will my check arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said it could be as soon as three weeks, but it could take longer.

Part of my wage comes from tips. How do I calculate my weekly wage for unemployment?

Tips are wages and should be reported as earnings. 

Employers report quarterly earnings, which include the tips reported by employees for each pay period. Those employer reports are used to determine your average weekly wage.

If you think your employer did not report tips accurately or at all, you might need to file an affidavit with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to review.

I am working fewer hours because restaurants are providing carryout and drive-thru only. Can I apply for benefits?

If you are partially unemployed because of a lack of work, you might be eligible for benefits. However, you would probably receive less money.

Earnings over 20% of the weekly benefit amount will reduce the benefit payment dollar for dollar. 

Do I need to try to find another job to receive unemployment compensation?

No. This requirement was waived by the governor.

How do I apply for unemployment?

You can apply online at http://unemployment.ohio.gov or via phone at 1-877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408.

The phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, but state officials recommended filing online if you are able.  

What documents will I need to apply for unemployment?

You will need:

  • your Social Security number
  • driver's license or state identification number 
  • your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • the name, address, telephone number and dates of employment for each place you worked in the past six weeks 
  • the reason you became unemployed
  • dependents' names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth
  • if you are not a U.S. citizen, your alien registration number and expiration date
  • your regular occupation and job skills 
  • if you worked out-of-state or for the federal government, you might need a DD-214 member 4 copy (military service) or SF-8 or SF-50 form (for federal government employment)   

I can't get through to file my unemployment claim. Will that affect when I get money?

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' personnel and systems are overwhelmed, and the number of claims isn't slowing. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has said the state is working to improve these problems, but the wait is still long.

Benefits are applied retroactively to when you became eligible, not the date you file the claim.

In the meantime, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services suggests trying off-peak hours.

USA Today reporter Michael Collins contributed to this article. 

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Out of work because of coronavirus? Here's how the federal stimulus affects Ohio unemployment

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