December will see several changes to Ohio’s unemployment benefits

Ohio’s unemployment rate drop in October to 5.6 percent set the three-month average below the definition of “high unemployment period” by the federal government, which means some benefits will end on Dec. 12.

The benefits impacted by the federally mandated changes include the Federal-State Extended Benefits program and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said.

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“Certainly we are deeply sorry for any hardship that this will cause. We are hopeful that action will be taken soon at the federal level soon to continue federal assistance for those who are still hurting and in need,” said Kim Hall, director of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Ohioans who were eligible for up to 20 weeks of Extended Benefits for unemployment will see those benefits end on Dec. 12. These benefits were offered to those that exhausted the regular 26 weeks and the additional 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation offered through the CARES Act.

“New claimants, approved to receive up to 13 weeks of EB (extended benefits) based on Ohio’s lower unemployment rate, are not impacted at this time,” ODJFS said.

However, unless action is taken at the federal level, only traditional unemployment benefits will remain in effect after Dec. 26.

“We know that we need more help still,” Hall said. “Ohio is recovering, it’s on a path but we are not out of the woods just yet and Congress – we see recognizes that but there are complexities and dynamics that are happening that are impacting the ability to reach a deal.”

Self-employed workers, 1099 tax filers, part-time workers and others who have been receiving payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program passed with the CARES Act will not qualify for the seven additional weeks after Dec. 12. The program was designed to help those not traditionally covered by unemployment. The benefit amount under the program has been similar to what traditional unemployment recipients have received.

The state’s three-month average unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent, which dropped the state out of being able to receive the additional weeks of benefits when the state fell into the federal “high unemployment period.”