CLEVELAND — The new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA), designed to provide benefits for individuals who are ineligible for state unemployment benefits including self-employed workers and 1099 tax filers has expanded its benefits eligibility, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Thursday.
The program was created under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27. Eligibility for the program was targeted for 1099 tax filers and those who didn’t qualify for the state’s benefits.
According to the ODJFS, this program will provide benefits to the following categories of workers:
- Those who were self-employed, worked part-time, or do not otherwise qualify for regular unemployment benefits and fit one of the categories below
- Those unable to reach their place of employment because of quarantine
- Those unable to reach their place of employment because they have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
- Those whose place of employment is closed because of COVID-19
- Those who were scheduled to start work but who no longer have a job because of COVID-19
- Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Those with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Those providing care to a family or household member with COVID-19
- Those with primary caregiving responsibilities for children or others who are unable to attend school or another facility due to COVID-19
ODJFS said the benefit amount will be similar to traditional unemployment benefits plus an additional $600 per week, lasting no more than 39 weeks.
Like every other state, Ohio is working on the exact details of how to implement this program. ODJFS Director Kim Hall said they are working to set up the program to handle applications for expanded pandemic unemployment claims. It’s not expected to be up and running until May.
“It’s frustrating and challenging for individuals to be in limbo right now while we are understanding requirements and partnering with a vendor to build a system, but they really need to wait until they have the PUA system established,” said Director Kim Hall.
Although those who wish to apply can't use the existing system or call center and will have to wait for the new program to be operational, all benefits will be retroactive to the date that you became eligible.
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