The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our lives in ways we never imagined. The magnitude of the pandemic has resulted in a plethora of changes in both tax law and social benefit programs. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) recently launched the “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program or PUA. The program is specific to Ohioans who typically would not have qualified for unemployment assistance such as those who are self-employed, 1099 filers, part-time employees, and those who lack a sufficient work history.
The ODJFS recently released a number of qualification guidelines on their website, located at https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility/. The major requirement for individuals is that they must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Eligible individuals must also meet one of the follow criteria:
Individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and is currently seeking a medical diagnosis
A family member of the individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19
Individual is providing care for family/household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
Individual has a child/household member who is unable to attend school
Individual cannot reach their workplace due to COVID-19
Individual is unable to reach their workplace due to a healthcare professional advising him/her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
Individual was supposed to commence employment and the job has been suspended or they are unable to reach the job due to COVID-19
Individual has become the primary support for a household due to a death from COVID-19
Individual has quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19
Individual was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19
The individual’s workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19
Additionally, there is no minimum income requirement for the program. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance office will utilize income tax records and proof of employment to determine eligibility.
What Amount of Benefits can I Expect to Receive?
The amount of unemployment compensation for the PUA is calculated in a similar manner as traditional unemployment; however, the minimum benefit an individual will receive is $189 per week. The program allows benefits to be paid for as long as 39 weeks, with a maximum cutoff date of December 26, 2020. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program or FPUC provides an additional $600 per week until July 25, 2020. The federal assistance is paid in addition to the PUA benefit amount. The PUA and FPUC will both provide retroactive benefits to qualifying individuals. The lookback period will start on the date the individual becomes eligible and go back to February 2nd, 2020 for PUA and March 29, 2020 for FPUC.
How can I Apply?
The application process is completed online at the following web address:
If the individual does not have internet access, the application process can also be handled over the phone at 1-833-604-0774. According to the PUA website, most claims are processed in approximately 21 days and benefits are usually paid 5-7 days after approval. Additional information as well as a list of frequently asked questions are both available at https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility/.
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.