Guide to filing for Ohio unemployment benefits

Man sitting at a table, reading on his phone about unemployment benefits in OhioImage: Man sitting at a table, reading on his phone about unemployment benefits in Ohio

In a Nutshell

If you become unemployed in Ohio, you may be able to qualify for unemployment compensation. But you’ll need to meet eligibility requirements and you’ll have to apply either online or over the phone.
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In the three weeks ending April 4, 2020 alone, Ohio unemployment claims were nearly double the total number of claims filed in all of 2019.

If you’ve lost your job because of the coronavirus pandemic, you can apply for Ohio unemployment benefits that provide financial assistance. Here are some things to know.

How do unemployment benefits work in Ohio?

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services oversees the state’s unemployment insurance benefits program through the Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations. When you lose your job, you should apply for benefits as soon as possible online or by phone — there’s no option for in-person applications.

If your claim is approved, you can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks a year. But states may choose to revise their benefits in times of economic crisis, and the federal government may help fund extended state benefits during such times.

How can I qualify for Ohio unemployment benefits?

To qualify for unemployment benefits, federal guidelines say you must be unemployed through no fault of your own, like if you were laid off because of a lack of available work.

But each state also has its own eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for benefits.

In Ohio, you must meet four criteria to establish eligibility for unemployment benefits.

  1. You are fully or partially unemployed when you file your application. Being fully unemployed means that you’ve done no work and earned no wages. You’re partially unemployed during a week if your employer let you go before the end of your regular work week, or reduced your hours and pay, leaving you earning less than your weekly unemployment benefit amount.
  2. You worked for at least 20 weeks during a base period (more on the base period shortly) for a company that’s covered by Ohio unemployment insurance. If you file in 2020, you must have at least an average weekly wage of $269 before taxes and deductions during this base period.
  3. You’re unemployed through no fault of your own. It’s not your fault you’re out of work if your employer laid you off because of a lack of work, eliminated your job or closed the business. But if your employer fired you for a reason, such as poor performance or violating company rules, you might not qualify for benefits. If you can demonstrate that you quit your job for a good reason, such as unsafe working conditions, you may qualify for unemployment benefits.
  4. You’ve spent enough time working at a covered business since the last time you filed a claim. If this isn’t your first time filing for unemployment compensation, you’ll need to have worked and earned a certain amount of wages for at least six weeks since the end of your last claim.

How much might I get?

As with most states, Ohio’s formula for calculating your weekly benefit amount can seem a little confusing. Let’s walk through it and look at an example.

The calculation of your weekly benefit amount will depend on your earnings during what’s referred to as your base period. In Ohio, the standard base period is the first four out of the last five calendar quarters before you file your claim. So, for example, if you file in May, your base period would be January through December of the previous calendar year.

The formula for your weekly benefit amount is half your average weekly wage during your base period — up to maximum amounts based on the number of qualifying dependents you have.

Here’s how to find your average weekly wage.

  1. Add up all the wages you earned during the base period
  2. Divide that number by the total number of weeks you worked during that period
  3. Divide that amount in half

In Ohio, the minimum weekly benefit amount is $135. Here’s a snapshot of the maximum unemployment benefit amounts in Ohio for 2020.

Number of allowable dependentsAverage weekly wageMaximum weekly benefit payment
0$960 or higher $480
1 or 2$1,164 or higher$582
3 or more $1,294 or higher$647

Again, because states may change their benefits during times of crisis, it’s possible these maximums can change during recessions or other economic crises. 

How can I apply?

You have two ways to file an application for Ohio unemployment benefits.

  • Online — File any time online at Click on the red “apply for unemployment now” button and follow the instructions.
  • By phone — Call 1-877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408 to reach an agent for assistance. Regular hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, excluding holidays.

You’ll need to provide the following information to apply for unemployment benefits in Ohio:

  • Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse and any dependents you’re claiming
  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Names and dates of birth for your spouse and any dependents you’re claiming
  • Your driver’s license or state ID number
  • Name, address, telephone number and dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past six weeks of employment
  • The reason you became unemployed (you’ll need a reason for each employer)
  • Alien registration number and expiration date if you’re not a U.S. citizen or national
  • Your regular occupation and job skills

If you were employed out of state, have worked for the federal government or are separated from military service, you’ll need to provide additional information.

How will I receive my payments?

Three weeks after you file, your first payment should be issued, though it can take up to four weeks to receive the payment. You should file for benefits weekly during this time. And you won’t get paid for the first week that you’re eligible for benefits — that’s a state-required waiting week.

You have two options for receiving payments: direct deposit or debit card. A direct deposit can go into a checking or savings account, so you must provide the bank name, address, account type, routing number and account number.

Alternatively, you can receive payments on a U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa debit card, which you can use to make purchases and withdraw cash at an ATM. Withdrawals at U.S. Bank or MoneyPass ATMs are free, but you may be charged a fee at other ATMs.

Are Ohio unemployment benefits taxable?

Unemployment compensation is taxable income that you must report to the IRS. When you file for Ohio unemployment benefits, you can opt to have taxes withheld from your benefit amount, which could help you avoid a big tax bill when you file your tax return.

When do my benefits end?

While the duration may be extended during a national economic crisis, under normal circumstances you can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits per year. But you’ll need to file weekly claims and meet these ongoing requirements to keep receiving benefits.

  • Be willing and able to accept suitable work every day you claim your benefit — For example, if you begin school and it impacts your ability to accept suitable work consistent with your prior training and experience, you may no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Actively seek work — Generally, you need to be actively looking for a job, although there are some exceptions.
  • Participate in re-employment activities by the eighth week after filing your claim — Not showing up for a Reemployment Service session or activity could cause you to lose benefits.
  • Accept suitable work if it’s offered to you (or have a good reason for declining the work).

Report any money you received, such as severance pay or vacation pay. If your gross earning is less than your weekly benefit amount, you can still receive benefits, but they’ll likely be reduced.

What if my claim is rejected?

If your unemployment benefits application is rejected and you disagree with the decision, you have the option to appeal within 21 days. Here’s what to include in your appeal.

  • Your Social Security number
  • The date and identification number of the determination you disagree with
  • Reasons you disagree (evidence, documentation or witness statements can be added)

You can submit your appeal online at between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time daily or by mail or fax with the processing center listed on your determination notice. During the appeal process you should continue to file unemployment claims for the weeks you’re unemployed because if the appeal is ruled in your favor, you may only get payments for weeks that were properly claimed.

Bottom line

Unemployment benefits are a temporary solution to help unemployed workers pay bills and care for dependents. But you must meet eligibility requirements to receive unemployment compensation (and keep receiving it). You can take the first step by submitting an application with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

How has COVID-19 affected Ohio unemployment benefits?

  • The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, extends benefits up to 39 weeks rather than capping them at 26 weeks per year.
  • The CARES Act also provides an additional $600 per week in addition to your regular unemployment benefit beginning on March 27, 2020, and ending on or before July 31, 2020.
  • In addition, self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise wouldn’t qualify may now be eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • If you’re out of work because of COVID‐19, you should use mass‐layoff number #2000180 when you file your application.
  • In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations has extended its hours when agents can take initial applications: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern time.
Learn about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

About the author: Laura Malm is a writer and editor with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and strategic communication from the University of Minnesota. She is passionate about financial literacy and helping others feel confident in th… Read more.