Maintaining Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation Benefits
Do I have to do anything to continue my eligibility?
Once your application is allowed and your benefit amounts are set, other factors will be considered before you are paid for your weeks of unemployment. When you file your weekly claims, you will be asked a series of questions that you are expected to answer honestly. Deliberately giving false information in order to receive benefits is a crime. Avoid the possibility of criminal prosecution and penalties by reporting your work, earnings and all other information honestly and accurately.
Are you able to work?
You must be physically and mentally able to work. If you are ill and unable to work during one or more days of your normal work week, you may not be entitled to payment for that entire week. If you are not physically and mentally able to work, you may receive benefits only if you furnish medical evidence that you can do other types of work that you are qualified for.
Are you available for work?
To be considered available for suitable work, you must be ready and willing to work any shift of any occupation consistent with your prior training and experience. If you restrict hours, wages, or conditions of employment that limit your chances of obtaining work, you may not be paid for any weeks claimed.
Are you attending school?
Taking classes at a school may affect your eligibility for benefits. Notify ODJFS if you are registering for school, attending school or stop attending school. If you are attending school, you may be asked at any time to obtain a form from the school verifying that you are still attending.
You will be asked about your availability for work. If you begin attending school while receiving unemployment, you may still need to look for suitable employment and be ready and willing to accept work on any shift or occupation consistent with your prior training and experience. Although individuals generally not eligible for benefits while attending school full-time, the following exceptions may allow you to collect benefits while in school:
- If you were attending school while working and continue school after becoming unemployed, you may be considered available for work while in school.
- If you enroll in a training course approved by ODJFS and make satisfactory progress, you may be considered available for work while in school. For further information concerning enrolling in an approved course, please contact your processing center.
Are you actively seeking work?
You are expected to make a good faith effort to return to work.
Your "New Claim Instruction Sheet" will inform you of the minimum work-search efforts you must make each week (Sunday through Saturday) to remain eligible for benefits. Later in your claim, you may be sent a "Notice of Change in Work Search Requirements" with new instructions. Please review these instructions carefully. Your continuing eligibility for unemployment benefits may be affected.
Most people are required to make a good faith effort and to actively seek suitable work on their own. Be prepared to submit a copy of your work search contacts when asked. If you fail to provide proof of your work search efforts, you may lose your benefits. Also, ODJFS may contact employers you list as job contacts to verify that you contacted them.
- If you are required to actively seek work on your own, Ohio law requires you to keep a written record of your efforts to find work each week. This means that each week you claim unemployment, you must personally apply for work with at least two employers who hire in your trade or occupation. You can find an example of how to track your work search efforts at the back of this booklet. Also, be sure to keep documents that support your efforts, such as copies of job applications delivered in person, copies of emails sending applications or resumes to employers, or confirmations from employers or websites.
- You must seek suitable work either in the area you worked in before or where your type of work is normally done. If you are working part-time, you still must seek suitable full-time employment to stay eligible for benefits.
- You may be required to register with Ohio’s job matching system(s) for job placement help. For a list of places where you can register in person, go to www.jfs.ohio.gov/owd/wia/wiamap.stm. If you have questions about your job registration status, you may call 1-877-644-6562 to speak with a customer service representative.
- You may be required to stay active with your labor organization if your union has a hiring hall and this is the normal method you follow to obtain work. To stay active, you must be a member in good standing and be eligible for placement or referral. Ohio law requires you to keep a written record of contacts with your union to obtain work. Record your union contacts on the pages at the back of this booklet. ODJFS may contact your union hall representative to verify that you are a member of good standing and whether you meet the union work search requirements.
- If your work search is waived because you expect to return to work within 45 days, you may need to make yourself available to your former employer for work and to keep him or her informed as to how to contact you for work. ODJFS may contact your employer to verify this information.
- If you are on a temporary layoff from a former employer, you must keep your contact information current with the former employer AND seek work with other employers. Contact with your former employer is NOT accepted as a work search contact. You still must seek employment with two other employers each week.
- If you live out of state and do not normally commute to work in Ohio, you may be required to register for work with your state's job matching system.
NOTE: All unemployment compensation claims are subject to audit, and ODJFS is conducting more frequent audits. Be prepared for a telephone or written request for your job search records. Upon request, you must provide all records for further examination. You may also be required to report in person to the local One-Stop Center nearest you to present your records.
Additionally, you may be selected to participate in a Reemployment Services Program. This program identifies claimants who are likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits. If you are selected, you will receive information about reemployment services and job openings. You will be required to attend an orientation session and participate in any reemployment services that you have agreed to participate in. Effective October 11, 2013, failure to report for a scheduled reemployment service session or to complete a reemployment service activity will result in your benefits being stopped until you attend or complete the activity. To read more about this and other new rules for unemployment claimants, read the New Rules for Unemployment Claimants information sheet.
Have you been offered a job?
You must accept suitable work offered to you on any shift or in any occupation consistent with your prior training and experience. Failure to do so can result in a suspension of benefits until you obtain employment that provides unemployment insurance coverage, work six weeks, earn wages equal to six times the state average weekly wage, and meet all other eligibility requirements. If you do not accept work, you will be interviewed to determine whether the work was suitable and whether you had good cause to refuse. In determining whether the work was suitable, ODJFS will consider your occupation, prior training and experience, and the length of your unemployment. ODJFS also considers factors such as the amount of risk to your health, safety and morals; your physical fitness for the work; the distance from your home to the work; and your prospects for obtaining local work. Your prior wages are not normally considered when determining whether work is suitable.
Have you reported earnings and income?
You must report earnings for any work performed and any income paid or payable to you while you are claiming unemployment benefits. If you work part-time, are self-employed or perform odd jobs during the weeks that you file for unemployment benefits, you may still be paid benefits if your gross earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount. Gross earnings are your total earnings before any taxes or deductions are taken out. You must report gross earnings for the week (Sunday through Saturday) in which they are earned, even if you have not yet been paid.
If your earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount, Ohio law allows you an exemption of 20 percent of your weekly benefit amount before a deduction is made.
|Example: If the weekly benefit amount is $400 and weekly earnings are $200
|To calculate the earnings deduction:
|Total earnings in a week
|| Note: Holiday pay is deducted after the 20 percent
earnings exemption is applied.
|Minus earnings exemption (20% of $400)
|Equals earnings deduction
|To calculate amount of benefits paid:
|Weekly benefit amount
|| Note: If earnings or holiday pay is equal to or
greater than your weekly benefit amount, no
benefits will be paid. Report all earnings, even if
they would not affect your weekly benefit amount.
|Minus earnings deducted
|Equals benefit amount paid
You must restart your claim for a week of unemployment that follows a week when your earnings were equal to or more than your weekly benefit amount. You must either call 1-877-644-6562 no later than Friday of the week you will be claiming, or file online by Saturday.
ODJFS uses a variety of methods to detect unreported earnings and income, such as:
- Checking new hire reports from employers.
- Conducting matches with employers' wage detail reports.
- Receiving public tips by telephone, mail, fax or email.
- Referencing cross matches with other government records (such as workers' compensation or child support).
You also must report all income, including payments other than wages. If any non-wage money is determined to be deductible from your benefits, the entire amount of money will be deducted. Types of income that may be deductible include:
- Severance pay
- Vacation pay
- Workers' compensation
- Company buyout payments
If the deductible income is less than your weekly benefit amount, your weekly payment will be reduced by the amount of income for the week. Some types of income may not be deducted, such as:
- Social Security
- Supplemental Unemployment Benefits
- U.S. National Guard/Armed Forces Reserve pay for scheduled drills
- Interest and dividends
- Rental income
- A lump sum distribution from a 401k plan
Review your unemployment check stub for a breakdown of all the above deductions. If you think this income is being deducted incorrectly, ask ODJFS for a written determination so that you may file an appeal.
What do I do if I receive a Notice of Eligibility Issue?
Whenever ODJFS receives information that raises a question about your continued eligibility, you will be notified in writing. The "Notice of Eligibility Issue" will provide the following information:
- The specific issue(s) that may result in the denial of your benefits.
- The beginning date of the issue.
- What action raised the eligibility issue.
You will have five business days from the date on the notice to respond with any additional information relating to the issues listed on the form. The standard business day is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may submit witness statements, doctors’ statements or other documents to support your testimony. All information received by the end of the five-day period will be used to determine whether you are still eligible for benefits. You also have the right to request a fact-finding interview within the five-day period. Instructions will be provided on the notice.
If you are paid benefits for any weeks that are later determined to be ineligible weeks, you will be sent a "Determination of Unemployment Compensation Benefits" that shows how much you were overpaid.
If you receive benefits that you are not entitled to, you will receive a notice and will be asked to pay back the overpayment amount.