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OHIO’S EXPANDED ELIGIBLITY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS UNDER THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

Laura Wilson

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into federal law on March 11, 2021, extends many of the pandemic unemployment programs and benefits created by the federal CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. For workers in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Service (ODJFS) which runs the unemployment program has developed a Resource Hub that contains information on available benefits and how to apply.
In Ohio, traditional unemployment compensation is available to workers who meet minimum employment and earnings requirements and are unemployed through no fault of their own. This regular unemployment compensation is generally available for up to 26 weeks. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, unemployment has been extended and expanded. Here is a summary of the expanded benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
The PUA program supports self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits. Individuals not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits may be eligible for PUA. There is no minimum income requirement for PUA. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 makes it possible to receive PUA for up to 79 weeks through September 4, 2021.
To be eligible for PUA, individuals must NOT be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. In addition, they must meet one of the following COVID-19-related eligibility circumstances:
• The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis;
• A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the school or care is required for the individual to work;
• The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine;
• The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because a healthcare professional has advised him or her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
• The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
• The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
• The individual has quit his/her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
• The individual was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19;
• The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Expanded Benefits Eligibility for 3 New Groups
On February 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance expanding PUA eligibility to include three new groups of individuals eligible for PUA:
• Those previously receiving traditional unemployment benefits who refuse to return to work or refuse an offer of work because the workplace is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.
• Those who provide services to an educational institution or educational service agency and are fully or partially unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19.
• Those who are laid off or had their work hours reduced as a direct result of COVID-19.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
PEUC benefits are an extension of traditional unemployment benefits. They may be available to workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits or whose regular UI claim has expired. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 makes it possible to receive PEUC for up to 53 weeks from April 2020 through September 4, 2021.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
FPUC provides an additional $300 weekly benefit to eligible claimants in multiple programs. The most recent federal legislation extends the FPUC supplement through September 4, 2021. In Ohio, FPUC is being provided for all unemployment programs, including but not limited to those individuals receiving traditional unemployment benefits, PUA, PEUC, and SharedWork Ohio.
Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation
The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program for eligible traditional unemployment claimants who also earned at least $5,000 in self-employment wages during the most recent taxable year. The program provides a supplemental benefit of $100 per week for qualifying weeks of unemployment claimed between December 27, 2020, and March 13, 2021. Ohioans who are eligible for this benefit will receive payments retroactively. The MEUC program is extended through September 4, 2021.
Employer Benefits
The American Rescue Plan also includes benefits for employers. This most recent federal legislation continues the following:
• Extends full federal funding for Ohio’s SharedWork program.
• Authorizes 75% credits to reimbursing employers for traditional unemployment benefit charges.
• Authorizes full federal funding of the first week of traditional unemployment benefits, instead of 50%.
• Extends the waiver of interest to states whose Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds require federal borrowing.
If you have questions about applying for unemployment benefits or have an issue with your unemployment award, the attorneys at Freking Myers & Reul and here to help. For more information on expanded unemployment benefits in Ohio under the American Rescue Plan, see:

Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance: Expanded Eligibility Resource Hub

Expanded Eligibility: Frequently Asked Questions

Pandemic Unemployment Program Updates

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Step-by-Step Application Instructions

ODJFS-infographic_Program-Progression

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