About 5,000 Ohioans denied pandemic unemployment help previously may now be eligible

Approximately 5,000 people who had their application denied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance prior to February 2021 may now be eligible for benefits after the U.S. Department of Labor made changes to its guidance, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced Monday.

“In February of this year, the Department of Labor expanded eligibility for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program,” said Matt Damschroder, Director of ODJFS. “As we continue to work through the unprecedented level of activity cause by the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to reach back out to those who may have been eligible under the expanded eligibility.”

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Those who are eligible to be reconsidered will be contacted by the ODJFS.

The Department of Labor expanded the list of scenarios that could qualify people for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in February 2021.

“Individuals who were denied prior to these changes may be eligible to have their applications redetermined if they believe one of these expanded reasons applied to them when they filed their claim,” ODJFS said in a statement.

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The state has started notifying those who were potentially impacted and worksheets will be placed in their PUA accounts to help them complete the process. The worksheets are being loaded into the unemployment system in batches, meaning it could take up to a week to reach the PUA accounts.

“Individuals contacted are strongly urged to log into their PUA accounts to check their inboxes for the worksheet. Once the worksheet is available, individuals will have five business days to complete it,” the state said.

The federal PUA program ended in September and provided benefits for many individuals ineligible for state unemployment benefits, including self-employed workers, 1099 tax filers and part-time workers.