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Expanded Eligibility: Frequently Asked Questions

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Expanded Eligibility

To be eligible for PUA, individuals must NOT be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Additionally, they must meet one of the following COVID-19-related eligibility circumstances:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the school or care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because a healthcare professional has advised him or her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has quit his/her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19

In addition, on February 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance expanding PUA eligibility to the three groups below. ODJFS is working to implement system programming that will allow these individuals to apply for benefits:

  • Those previously receiving traditional unemployment benefits who refuse to return to work or refuse an offer of work because the workplace is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.
  • Those who provide services to an educational institution or educational service agency and are fully or partially unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Those who are laid off or had their work hours reduced as a direct result of COVID-19.

There is no minimum income requirement for PUA. However, the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the law that extended PUA benefits for up to 50 weeks) requires claimants to submit documentation of prior employment or self-employment for weeks of benefits they claim on or after January 31, 2021. It also requires a heightened level of identity verification at the outset of new claims filed on or after January 26, 2021.

If you work as an independent contractor with reportable income, you may qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work because the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited your ability to continue performing your customary work activities, and has forced you to stop working.
No, you must continue claiming weeks in the regular unemployment program until your overpayment is resolved.
It’s possible. For detailed guidance on this subject, please click here.
You might have been if you filed weekly claims for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19 at any time from July 26 through September 5, 2020. These supplemental payments were available to recipients of regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Trade benefits, SharedWork Ohio benefits or extended unemployment benefits. Because of federal funding limitations, Lost Wages supplements were available for these six weeks only. For more information, click here.

To be eligible for PUA, you must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Additionally, you must meet one of the following COVID-19-related circumstances:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual's household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the school or care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because a healthcare professional has advised him or her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has quit his/her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual's place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19

There is no minimum income requirement for PUA. However, new legislation requires most new claimants to submit documentation of prior employment or self-employment within 21 days of their application. It also requires a heightened level of identity verification at the outset of new claims. Important: you will receive a separate notice informing you of how to submit this documentation.

It’s possible to receive PUA benefits for up to 79 weeks, through September 4, 2021. Click here to view an infographic with more information.

Acceptable work-search activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Interviewing for suitable work
  • Attending a job fair
  • Creating a personal user profile on a professional networking site (such as LinkedIn)
  • Creating and maintaining a reemployment plan
  • Creating and maintaining a searchable, active resume on OhioMeansJobs.com
  • Completing a career profile in OhioMeansJobs.com
  • Any other good faith reemployment strategy reasonably expected to result in reemployment

If you are self-employed, allowable activities can include contacting clients or potential clients, submitting bids or proposals, attending training, or expanding your business beyond the services typically performed.

Please keep a record of the work-search activities that you conduct each week. Each week that you file a PUA claim, you will be asked to certify that you have met this work-search requirement. If you have, simply check the certification box.

If you are quarantined or isolated by order of a medical professional, local health authority or employer, your work-search requirement will be waived, per the Governor's Executive Order. When you file a claim and are asked whether you completed your work-search activities, simply check the certification box. Please also retain the quarantine order as part of your work search log for future audit. If you are quarantined and your claim is denied, you will have the opportunity to appeal and submit documentation from a medical professional, local health authority or employer.

Federal and state law require unemployment claimants to search for work each week. At the height of the pandemic, the federal government allowed states to waive this requirement and encouraged states to restore it when conditions improved. The time is right to restore work-search requirements in Ohio, given the wide availability of vaccine protection and work opportunities in Ohio’s markedly improving economy. Beginning the week of May 23, Ohioans who are not exempt under existing state law will be required to resume weekly work-search activities each week they file claims for unemployment benefits.

PUA Application Process

To apply for the PUA program, visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov and click the button that says "Click Here to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance."

Before you begin the PUA application process, please be sure to collect the following documents and information.

  • Social Security number, date of birth and driver’s license or state ID number
  • Name, address, telephone number, and valid email address
  • Name, address, telephone number and dates of employment for 2019 or 2020
  • Reason for unemployment
  • Dependent information (Spouse or Children), including Social Security number and date of birth
  • Banking information for direct deposit
  • Documentation of employment, self-employment, or planned commencement of employment or self-employment for the tax year prior to when you filed your original claim for benefits. Acceptable documents can include paycheck stubs, state or federal employer identification numbers, business licenses, tax documents, business receipts or a signed affidavit.

Legislation passed in December 2020 requires most new claimants to provide the employment/self-employment documentation within 21 days of when they first applied for benefits. Existing claimants must provide this documentation either within 90 days of when they first applied or when they are requested to provide it by ODJFS, whichever is later. Important: you will receive a separate notice informing you of how to submit this documentation.

Here are examples of documents that will help you verify your identity in order to be eligible for benefits:

  • Photo Identification – Acceptable forms of photo ID include a copy of your passport, driver’s license, state identification card, military identification, permanent resident card, or student identification card.
  • Full Legal Name – Acceptable documents to prove your full legal name include a copy of your valid driver’s license, military identification, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, U.S. passport, foreign passport with visa, or other official document. If your full legal name is different from the one that appears on your documents, you must provide additional documents – for example, a marriage certificate, court order name change, or decree of divorce, disillusionment, or annulment.
  • Date of Birth – Acceptable documents to prove your date of birth include a copy of your valid driver’s license, military identification, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, U.S. passport, foreign passport with visa, or other official document.
  • Legal Presence in the U.S. – Acceptable documents to prove your legal presence in the U.S. include a copy of your birth certificate, U.S. passport, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or other official document.
  • Social Security Number – Acceptable documents to prove your Social Security number include a copy of your Social Security card, W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) from the last complete tax year, 1099 form, or pay stub.  
  • Street Address – Acceptable documents to prove your street address include a bank statement, pay stub, W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) from the last complete tax year, or 1099 form. If you listed a post office box as your mailing address, you must submit proof of ownership, such as a copy of PS Form 1093.
  • Bank Account – Acceptable documents to prove that your bank account is legitimate include a bank statement issued within the last 12 months or a copy of a voided check.
 

In most cases, if you believe you meet the eligibility requirements for the PUA program, you do not need to wait to be denied in the traditional unemployment program. You may file for PUA even you have an appeal for regular unemployment in process or you’re still waiting on your determination for regular unemployment.

No, you do not need to have first been denied for regular unemployment in order to apply for PUA.

The only reason to appeal a denial of regular unemployment benefits is if you believe the decision was made in error.

We have partnered with Experian in order to verify your identity and speed up the time for you to receive your payments. This is NOT a credit inquiry. If you select "I Disagree," you may continue submitting your claim, but it will cause a delay of several weeks for both your eligibility determination and any benefits you may be owed. In addition, you will be required to submit documents to prove your identity.

It could be any of several reasons.

It's possible that you weren't denied for PUA but are being directed back to the regular unemployment program to determine your eligibility for other benefits, based on your answers to the opening questions. If you are eligible for regular unemployment benefits, you must apply for them first, including any extended benefit programs.

It's also possible that you were not eligible in the previous quarter, but in the current quarter, you now qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

In addition, the new system is not allowing some individuals to apply for PUA if they are monetarily eligible for regular unemployment benefits but were denied for other reasons and meet PUA eligibility criteria. The system also has incorrectly denied some individuals who were serving penalty weeks in the regular unemployment program. We are aware of this issue, and are working to resolve it. If you believe you were denied for any of these reasons, please call the PUA Call Center at (833) 604-0774.

To ensure the security of your data. If you wish, after your application has been submitted, you can log in to your account, select the "View and Maintain Account Information" tab on the left side of the screen, and change your payment preference there.
The PUA system uses email communication to provide timely requests for more information and other updates. A future enhancement will allow for paper communication. In the meantime, we encourage you to consider setting up a free email account for this purpose.
If you can't provide the number of weeks you worked in each quarter, your weekly benefit payment will default to the minimum amount of $189 per week.

Yes, it's possible you may be eligible.

If you claimed PUA benefits within the last 12 months, simply visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov, enter your Social Security number and password, and request benefit payments for any weeks you were unemployed.

After you submit the application, remember to continue filing weekly claims while you wait for your determination. If more than 12 months have passed since you last received benefits, you will need to submit a new application for benefits.

Please know that the high claims volume has slowed processing times. However, you will receive all payments that you are eligible for, dating from the time that you became eligible.

If you claimed PUA benefits within the last 12 months, stopped filing, and believe you are now again eligible for benefits, simply visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov, enter your Social Security number and password, and request benefit payments for any weeks you were unemployed for one of the allowable COVID-19 reasons. When filing your weeks, please be sure to answer all of the questions accurately and truthfully, including reporting any earnings in the week filed.

If more than 12 months have passed since you last received benefits, you will need to submit a new application for benefits. After you submit the application, remember to continue filing weekly claims while you wait for your determination.

Please know that the high claims volume has slowed processing times. However, you will receive all payments that you are eligible for, dating from the time that you became eligible.

Technical Errors and Troubleshooting

Please visit unemployment.ohio.gov, click on the "Report Identity Theft" button, and complete the form so that we can investigate. We also recommend that you visit annualcreditreport.com to see whether you may the victim of other types of identity theft. In addition, OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/IdentityTheft has educational resources for Ohioans who believe they may be the victim of identity theft. For more information, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft.

Please visit unemployment.ohio.gov, click on the "Report Identity Theft" button, and complete the form so that we can investigate the claim that was filed and take appropriate actions. This can include correcting the 1099-G form that you were sent. We also recommend that you visit annualcreditreport.com to see whether you may the victim of other types of identity theft. In addition, OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/IdentityTheft has educational resources for Ohioans who believe they may be the victim of identity theft. For more information, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft.

You will receive a confirmation email, but there may be a brief delay. Please do not submit another report. Thank you for your patience.

This is the minimum PUA benefit amount. If you have been asked to submit additional documentation, this amount may appear until your claim can be processed.

New legislation requires most new claimants to provide the employment/self-employment documentation within 21 days of when they first applied for benefits. Existing claimants must provide this documentation either within 90 days of when they first applied or when they are requested to provide it by ODJFS, whichever is later. Important: you will receive a separate notice informing you of how to submit this documentation.

It's possible you're using your log-in credentials for the regular unemployment website. Your log-in credentials for the PUA website will be different. To apply for PUA, visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov and click the button that says "Click Here to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance."
After submitting your application, log in to your account and go to the "View and Maintain Account Information" tab on the left side of the screen. You will be able to upload your 1099 there.
After submitting your application, log in to your account and go to the "View and Maintain Account Information" tab on the left side of the screen. Then click on "Upload 1040 Tax Document."
One possibility is that when you entered your phone number, you also may have checked the box saying that you don’t have a phone number. When that happens, the system won’t let you proceed.
After submitting your application, log in to your account and go to the "View and Maintain Account Information" tab on the left side of the screen. You will be able to update your banking information there. Staff cannot assist with this.
If you're not able to reset your password online, please call the PUA Call Center at (833) 604-0774.
You will need staff assistance. Please call the PUA Call Center at (833) 604-0774 or email PUA-Technical-Services@jfs.ohio.gov.
You will need to click on the button that says "Summary" so that you can verify that the answers you entered are correct. Then click on "Submit." This will certify your weekly claim and provide the next weeks, if any, to be claimed. If you would like to change any of your answers, click on "Previous" to change them.
You have two options. You can either enter new banking information or switch to debit card payments. If the payment was rejected because it was more than the bank will allow you to deposit in a given time period, you will need to use a different bank or switch to debit card payments. For security reasons, you can do this ONLY through self-service online. You will need to take one of these actions in order to receive the payment.
Log into your account at pua.unemployment.ohio.gov. In the left toolbar, click on "Issues and Determinations" under "View and Maintain Account Information." Click on the Issue Identification Number that you would like to provide documentation for. Then check the box to provide additional documentation and select "Next." On the next screen, select "Yes." Select the "Upload Document" button, add your document and click "Submit." To upload multiple documents, repeat these steps.
Please call your processing center or 1-877-644-6562 (1-877-OHIO-JOB) to request a 1099 form. You will need this form to file your 2020 taxes.
Often, communications from scammers look very official. They instruct people to click on a link to obtain prize money or some kind of benefit. In reality, they're trying to trick people into providing their personal information. ODJFS does not send these types of emails. If you receive a notification that seems suspicious, and it asks you to give some personal information, don't click on any links. You can call your processing center or 1-877-644-6562 (1-877-OHIO-JOB) to see if it's legitimate.

You will need staff assistance. Please call the PUA Call Center at (833) 604-0774.

Continue filing your application or weekly claim. However, before your claim can be processed, you will need to provide the requested documentation necessary to verify your identity.

A provision of the second federal stimulus legislation – the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was enacted in December 2020 – made clear that PUA was only for individuals not entitled to traditional unemployment benefits. As a result, everyone who received PUA benefits when they should have received traditional unemployment benefits will receive a notice stating that their PUA benefits are now denied. They also will be issued an overpayment.

If you received this notice, please do not be alarmed. We will walk you through the correct filing for traditional unemployment benefits and will manually reconcile any payments made to make certain you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Also, we do have the authority to waive overpayments in certain circumstances.

If you are in this situation, and are due additional benefits after the manual reconciliation process, you will be issued a ReliaCard (if you do not already have one) containing the difference, if any, between the amount you were paid in PUA and the amount you were entitled to receive in traditional unemployment benefits. After four weeks from the card’s issuance date, you may change your payment method to “direct deposit,” if you would like.

UCRC waiver decisions are legally binding, and they will be honored. However, right now, the PUA system isn’t designed to recognize waivers. Once the system programming is complete, any payments made or offsets of weeks for overpayments that the UCRC has waived will be returned to claimants.
Yes. System programming is underway to automate the overpayment waiver and repayment process. Once it is complete, any payments or offsets made will be returned, if they cannot be applied to other debt not eligible for a waiver.

What to Expect After Applying

To backdate a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim, please fill out and submit this online form. Be aware that new federal legislation limits the ability of unemployment offices to backdate some PUA claims. PUA applications filed after December 27, 2020, may not be backdated earlier than December 6, 2020. Please be prepared to explain why you believe your claim should be backdated. (For example, "I was unable to file my claim because of X, Y or Z.")

Even in normal times, claims processing is not an overnight process. The expected claims-processing period, per DOL standards, is 21 days. The high claims volume has slowed processing times even more, but individuals will receive all payments that they are eligible for.

The supplemental $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments are available in Ohio through the week ending June 26, 2021. For more information, please visit jfs.ohio.gov/caa.
As Governor DeWine said, when the program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was through social distancing, masking, and sanitization. This is no longer the case, as we now have an abundant supply of vaccines, and many available jobs.

In an effort to reduce fraud, new legislation requires most existing PUA claimants to provide documentation of employment, self-employment, or planned commencement of employment or self-employment for the tax year prior to when they filed their original claim for benefits. Acceptable documents can include paycheck stubs, state or federal employer identification numbers, business licenses, tax documents, business receipts or a signed affidavit. This documentation must be provided within 90 days of the initial application or when requested by ODJFS, whichever is later.

Weekly claims are paid approximately five to seven days after they are approved.

The benefit amount will be similar to traditional unemployment benefits if you have proof of prior wages. Otherwise, the PUA weekly benefit is $189. To calculate your estimated weekly payment, see page 19 of the Worker's Guide to Unemployment Insurance.

You may have entered your wages but not your weeks worked. If that is the case, our system may have overestimated your appropriate benefit amount. It’s also possible that you entered past earnings without documentation. If so, your weekly payment will default to the minimum $189, with an overpayment noted for weeks claimed. Whenever overpayments are issued, Ohio law requires up to 50% of future benefits to be applied to the overpayment balance. To view your overpayment details, log in to your account at pua.unemployment.ohio.gov and select "Manage Debt."
Sometimes emails do not show up properly when opened on some models of iPhones. Please try opening the email on a desktop or laptop.

If you chose to receive benefits on a U.S. Bank ReliaCard, you may receive the card in the mail before funds are loaded onto it. Your card will be funded two to three business days after your claim has been approved. If you have questions about your ReliaCard, please visit usbankreliacard.com.

The first thing that you should do if you believe your overpayment was issued in error is to appeal your decision. All overpayment notices contain instructions for how to do so. Be prepared to submit additional documentation to support your case. Additionally, federal and state law authorize the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to waive the repayment of unemployment benefit overpayments if it is determined that the overpayment was not the claimant’s fault and that repayment would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.” If you received a notice that you have an overpayment, and if you believe the overpayment was not your fault, you can request a waiver by logging into your account online and following these instructions.

If you have an overpayment, you are still claiming benefits, and your overpayment has not been waived, your weekly benefit will be offset until your overpayment is paid in full. If you disagree with the overpayment, you can log into your account to request a waiver or file a formal appeal. All overpayment notices contain instructions for how to do so. Be prepared to submit additional documentation to support your case.  

Federal and state law authorize the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to waive the repayment of unemployment benefit overpayments if it is determined that the overpayment was not the claimant’s fault and that repayment would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.” If you believe your claim meets those qualifications, you should request a waiver or file an appeal.

With overpayments in the traditional unemployment program, existing state law allows ODJFS to analyze individual cases for any agency errors and not require repayment in those instances. Federal law also allows ODJFS to waive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Lost Wages Assistance overpayments, if claimants were without fault and if repayment would be contrary to "equity and good conscience."

If you believe your claim meets those qualifications, you should file an appeal. All overpayment notices contain instructions for how to do so. Be prepared to submit additional documentation to support your case.

You can send it to ODJFS - OUIO Finance Section, P.O. Box 182059, Columbus, Ohio 43218-2059.