Federal Benefits - Ohio Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out how Ohio unemployment benefits and eligibility work, including how much you can expect to receive and what to do if your application is denied.

Ohio unemployment benefits and eligibility criteria are handled by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). Ohio's unemployment insurance benefits program entitles people who are unemployed through circumstances outside their control to temporary financial assistance. 

Applicants will need to meet several monetary and non-monetary eligibility criteria to qualify for unemployment benefits in Ohio. Below, you can find out how Ohio unemployment benefits and eligibility work and how to claim them. 

How Do I Claim Unemployment Benefits in Ohio?

You can apply for unemployment benefits by calling the ODJFS helpline or online via the ODJFS benefits portal, and you should do so as soon as you become unemployed. It can take 3 weeks or longer to receive your first benefits payment. 

You will need to provide certain information to support your claim. This includes:

  • Your Social Security or Alien Registration number and those of your dependents
  • 6-week employment record, including your employer's contact information, start and end dates  and why you left each position
  • Dates of birth of any dependents

If your claim is accepted, you will need to file claims every week as long as you wish to receive benefits. You will receive a new claim instruction sheet from the ODJFS explaining how to file weekly claims and what is expected of you as a claimant.

Your instruction sheet will tell you which day of the week you've been assigned to submit your claim based on your surname initial, a new initiative in Ohio designed to ease pressure on the benefits administration system. Failing to submit a weekly claim will result in the loss of benefits for that week, so setting a weekly reminder is a good idea. 

People claiming unemployment benefits in Ohio are expected to make every effort to secure employment, and you may be asked to submit evidence of your work search activities as part of your weekly claim. It's wise to retain records of jobs you've applied for, contact with potential employers and any steps you've taken to improve your skills or resume for this purpose. 

How Does Ohio Unemployment Benefits Eligibility Work?

You will need to demonstrate that you meet Ohio's eligibility criteria when you apply for unemployment benefits. The ODJFS will look at the reasons for unemployment and your earnings during your base period to decide if you qualify. The Ohio unemployment benefits eligibility criteria are as follows.

Monetary Eligibility Criteria

Monetary eligibility is determined by calculating your earnings during a base period. Ohio uses the same base period system as most of the United States, taking the five financial quarters before you file your claim and counting the first four. 

During your base period, you must have clocked up 20 working weeks with minimum weekly average earnings of $269. Work is only counted if it was for a covered employer, which means that it must be for an employer that contributed taxes to fund the unemployment insurance benefits system. It's unusual for an employer not to be covered, but certain small employers may not be. 

Non-Monetary Eligibility Criteria

Ohio only provides unemployment insurance benefits to people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. You may also qualify for partial benefits if your hours have been reduced for reasons beyond your control.

For example, people who were laid off because their employer became insolvent would most likely qualify. However, your claim will likely be refused if you were fired due to misconduct or criminal activity. 

The ODJFS doesn't usually approve benefits for applicants who quit their jobs voluntarily. However, your claim may succeed if you can prove you had just cause to quit. In other words, the ODJFS must consider that it was an unavoidable decision that most sensible individuals would make in a similar situation. For example, it is likely to decide that you had no choice but to quit if you were subjected to workplace harassment or required to work in dangerous or morally unacceptable conditions. 

You may need to prove that you had just cause to quit if you want to receive unemployment benefits after quitting your job. Therefore, it's crucial to keep records of how you attempted to resolve the situation and any communications with your employer or HR personnel to support your claim. 

Weekly Eligibility Criteria

You can lose your eligibility for Ohio unemployment benefits if you don't look for work during your claim period. Your new claim instruction sheet will tell you what you are expected to do to find a job while you're claiming benefits. Typically, you will be expected to apply for at least two roles per week. 

You may also be required to engage in supportive programs designed to help you back into work as soon as possible. It's important to participate in any activities offered to you. 

The ODJFS has the right to verify that you've actually carried out the job-seeking activities you've reported in your weekly claim. This could include contacting employers to confirm that you've applied for a job, so it's essential to be honest about what you're doing to find work.

How Much Will I Get and for How Long?

The ODJFS calculates your benefit amount by finding 50% of your average weekly earnings across your base period. It works out the average across weeks you actually worked and discounts any weeks when you didn't work. Your benefits will be paid to you by direct bank transfer or loaded onto a debit card, and you can choose which payment method you prefer. 

Weekly benefits are capped, so you won't receive the full 50% of your average weekly earnings if it exceeds the cut-off point. You may receive a higher figure if you have dependents. The maximum amount you can receive per week is:

  • $443 (no dependents)
  • $537 (1 or 2 dependents)
  • $598 (3 dependents or more)

Like most states, Ohio limits the period you can receive unemployment benefits to a maximum of 26 weeks. It does not usually permit benefits extensions apart from in exceptional situations, such as during the coronavirus pandemic. 

What If My Application for Ohio Unemployment Benefits Is Denied?

If your application for Ohio unemployment benefits is denied, it is likely that you didn't meet the state's eligibility criteria. However, you have the right to appeal if you believe the ODJFS made the wrong decision. You must appeal in writing within 21 days of the mailing date on your denial letter.