Ohio residents who have recently lost their jobs might be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments available to employees who are out of work temporarily, through no fault of their own. Although the basic rules for unemployment are similar across the board, the benefit amounts, eligibility rules, and other details vary from state to state. Here’s how unemployment benefits work in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) administers unemployment benefits. You may file your claim for unemployment benefits electronically or by phone. You can find contact information and online filing information at the website of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Once the ODJFS receives your application, it will send you a New Claim Instruction Sheet explaining how to file weekly claims for benefits. You will also receive notice if the ODJFS needs more information or makes a determination on your claim.
The ODJFS determines eligibility for workers claiming unemployment benefits in the state. You must meet these three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in Ohio:
Like every state, Ohio looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period). In Ohio, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you filed your claim in August of 2015, the base period would be from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015.
To qualify for benefits in Ohio, you must meet both of these requirements:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Ohio.
Layoffs. If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
Firing. If you were fired because you simply weren't a good fit, you won’t necessarily be barred from receiving benefits. If, however, you were fired for good cause, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits. For example, if you were fired for failing to perform your job duties or willfully violating company policies of which you were aware, you might not be eligible for benefits.
Quitting. If you quit your job, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had just cause to leave your job. In general, just cause means that you had a compelling, job-related reason for leaving the position and a reasonably careful person would have done the same in your circumstances. If you left your job because of sexual harassment that your employer refused to protect you from after being put on notice, you may be able to collect benefits. You will also likely be eligible if you were forced to work in unsafe conditions or your employer failed to pay you fully for your work.
To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?) If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
Whether a position is suitable depends on a number of factors, including how similar the job is to your previous employment, how much you will be paid, the working conditions, and the skills, experience, and training required for the position. The longer you are unemployed, the more likely you will have to consider jobs that are different from, pay less than, or require a significantly longer commute than your prior position.
You must engage in a good faith search for work, including contacting at least two potential employers each week. The ODJFS may ask you to provide contact information for employers you’ve reached out to at any point during your claim. In addition, you will be required to create a resume and participate in other reemployment efforts at the ODJFS’s online portal, OhioMeansJobs.com.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate in Ohio will be 50% of your average weekly wage (see “Past Earnings” section above) during the base period. The most you can receive each week is $424; the least you can receive is $118 each week. If you have dependents, you may be entitled to a higher benefit payment.
You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, additional weeks of benefits may be available.)
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 21 days to appeal the decision. After receiving your appeal request, the ODJFS will decide whether to change its determination or refer your appeal to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC). If you are not happy with the redetermination or the decision of the UCRC hearing officer, you may ask the Commission to review the decision within 21 days. If you are still dissatisfied, you may file an appeal in the Common Pleas Court in the county where you live or last worked within 30 days.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Ohio Office of Unemployment Compensation.