If you have lost your job through no fault of your own, you probably assume that you will be able to collect unemployment insurance until you find another one, but unfortunately, it does not always work out that way. Too many people who are out of work are unable to find decent jobs and wind up unemployed for long periods of time. Sometimes they may not even receive the compensation they deserve because they have filed incorrectly or because former employers take steps to prevent benefits from being collected.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in November, with the state gaining 9,100 jobs. While this may sound encouraging, according to the think tank Policy Matters Ohio, the state has now experienced six months of five-figure declines, and since the official start of the 2007 national recession, the Ohio labor force is down by 261,000 as Ohioans are continuing to drop out of the job market. Not only that, many of the jobs that were created in Ohio in recent months were in industries such as leisure and hospitality, where wages are low.
The skilled and seasoned Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that job loss can occur to even the most hardworking people. We offer a free consultation to examine your situation and determine if bankruptcy is right for you.
How Can I Get Unemployment Benefits?
In order to receive unemployment benefits, you must first file a claim with the ODJFS electronically or by phone. (See the website of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.) After the ODJFS receives your application, it will send you a New Claim Instruction Sheet explaining how to file for benefits. Once you do so, the ODJFS will determine if you are eligible to collect.
What Determines Eligibility?
To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Ohio, you must meet these requirements:
- You must be totally or partially unemployed when you file your application. Totally unemployed means you have done no work and earned no income during the week you apply. If you have worked part of the week or for reduced hours and you earn less than the unemployment weekly benefit amount, you may be partially unemployed and eligible for some benefits.
- You must have earned at least $243 per week for 20 weeks in the base period before you became unemployed. Ohio looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year “base period,” which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim.
If you do not qualify for benefits using the regular base period, you may qualify under an alternate base period, which is the last four completed calendar quarters before your benefit account begins.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate in Ohio will be 50% of your average base period weekly wage (with a maximum of $435 per week without dependents) for 26 weeks.
- You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Ohio law. No-fault reasons include:
- If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or were “downsized” for economic reasons.
- You can still receive benefits if you were fired for acceptable reasons, such as being fired without good cause. However, if you were fired for certain legitimate causes, such as violating company policy you knew about, you might not be eligible for benefits.
- Quitting, under certain circumstances. If you quit your job, to be eligible for unemployment benefits you would have to show just cause — a compelling, job-related reason for leaving the position, and that a reasonably careful person would have done the same in your circumstances. For example, you were fired because you reported sexual harassment.
What Are Requirements For Continuing to Collect Unemployment Benefits?
If you are granted benefits, there are requirements for keeping them. You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively looking for a job. If you are offered a suitable job, you must accept it.
Actively looking for work means you must contact at least two potential employers each week, and you must provide contact information for these employers. You will also have to create a resume and participate in reemployment efforts at the ODJFS’s online portal, OhioMeansJobs.com.
To determine whether a job is suitable, the ODJFS looks at factors that include: 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. If you have been unemployed for a long time, you are expected to consider jobs that are different from, pay less than, or require a significantly longer commute than your prior position.
What if I am Denied Benefits?
If your claim is denied, you have 21 days to appeal the decision to the ODJFS, which will decide whether to change its determination or refer your appeal to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC). If their decision is unfavorable, you have 21 days to ask for a review. If you are still dissatisfied, you may file an appeal in the Common Pleas Court.
Contact Us For a Free Consultation and Get Help
Although you may feel that you rightly deserve unemployment benefits, if your employer decides to fight you or if you file something incorrectly, you may wind up with a denied claim or even with a demand from the ODJFS that you pay back benefits. If you have been struggling with unemployment and debt and are considering Bankruptcy, call us today for a free consultation. Having an attorney to represent you through the bankruptcy process will greatly increases your chances for a better financial situation in the future.