Earlier this week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced an executive order expanding the state's unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus COVID-19 or who have had to go into isolation or quarantine due to the virus.
The new virus has swept across the globe. While many cases are relatively mild, the disease can be deadly, especially for older people and those with chronic illness. At least 50 cases have been confirmed in Ohio to date, 14 of which have put people in the hospital. Medical experts warn more — likely many more — cases are coming.
DeWine earlier this week ordered a halt to all dine-in restaurant and bar service — an order that will hit workers in those industries hard. The expansion of unemployment benefits is meant to cushion that blow, DeWine says.
DeWine's order waived a week-long waiting period that usually applies to unemployment benefits.
So what exactly does all of this mean, and how can people apply for those benefits?
There are two ways to apply:
• Go to the state of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' unemployment website.
• Call ODJFS' toll-free number: 1-877-644-6562.
You'll need the following personal identifying information when you apply:
• Your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and driver's license or state ID number
• Your social security number and date of birth
• The same information as above (minus driver's license or ID information) for a spouse and/or any dependents you wish to claim
• The name, address and telephone number for each employer you've worked for over the past six weeks
• The dates you worked for those employers and why you no longer work for them
• Your occupation
• A number the state calls your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. Citizen
Who is eligible?
The ODJFS site has an extensive list of frequently asked questions, including questions specific to the governor's new order and coronavirus. You can find that FAQ here.
Common questions include:
• If a company lays off workers due to COVID-19, are its former employees eligible for unemployment?
"Yes, if the employees are otherwise eligible," ODJFS says. "An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio's emergency declaration period."
• If a person without symptoms chooses to self-quarantine and doesn't go to work, would they be eligible for benefits?
"In most cases, no," ODJFS says. "Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual-not the employer-is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria."
How much can I receive in benefits?
The state's formula is complex and takes into account a number of factors you can read about here.
However, there are maximum limits set by the state for weekly benefits depending on how many dependents you claim. They are:
• $480 per week for a person with no dependents
• $582 per week for a person with one or two dependents
• $647 per week for a person with three or more dependents