How to Apply For Ohio Unemployment Benefits | Eligibility Requirements

Need to apply for Ohio unemployment benefits online? Read this guide to know everything about how to file for unemployment in Ohio and eligibility requirements.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy, 43 states have posted record rates of unemployment. According to Forbes, Ohio is among the 10 states with the most people out of work. As of late May 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 16.8 percent.

In response to the pandemic, the federal government has given states much more leeway in determining eligibility and providing benefits. Gov. Mike DeWine has relaxed many of the rules normally in place for receiving Ohio unemployment benefits.

Here’s all you need to know about qualifying for assistance and completing the Ohio unemployment application.

Traditional Ohio Unemployment Eligibility

The assistance program is managed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, or ODJFS. It’s funded solely by employer taxes; workers do not contribute. Help is available to Ohioans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Under normal circumstances, the criteria for eligibility are as follows:

•You are unemployed or only partially employed at the time you file. Partial employment may be due to reduced hours, lack of work or another circumstance that affected your earnings.

• You worked either full time or part time for at least 20 weeks during the base period that the ODJFS evaluates. You must also have earned at least $269 per week on average during the base period.

The base period is one year. It doesn’t include the quarter in which you file a claim or the quarter immediately before that one. If you filed a claim in April, May or June of 2020, for instance, your base period would be January through December of 2019.

The ODJFS sometimes considers an alternate base period for people who didn’t work 20 weeks or earn enough money during the regular one.

• Before COVID-19, your work must have been for an employer who pays Ohio unemployment insurance. The current exception will be explained further down.

• Your unemployment must be through no fault of your own. Examples include a layoff, downsizing or your place of work closing.

Being fired for misconduct, however, probably excludes you from Ohio unemployment eligibility. The same goes for voluntarily quitting your job without good reason.

However, if the workplace was unsafe, if you were discriminated against, or if your boss violated the terms of your hiring agreement, you have a good chance of qualifying for benefits.

• With the exception of a lockout, you can’t receive benefits if you’re involved in any kind of labor dispute.

• Exceptions were made for the coronavirus emergency, but normally, you must show proof of actively seeking a job to remain eligible for benefits.

You must also register with and create a résumé and profile. If you are offered a job that matches up with your skills and experience, you’re expected to take it.

Benefits Under Traditional Ohio Unemployment Compensation

The weekly benefit amount is calculated at half your average weekly earnings during the base period, but there are caps.

If you have no dependents, the maximum is $480 per week. If you have one to two dependents, the maximum is $582. If you have three or more dependents, the maximum is $647.

While receiving benefits, you must report all forms of weekly income in addition to any money you earned. Some types of income, like those below, may be deducted from your weekly benefits:

• Worker’s compensation.

• Vacation or severance pay.

• Pension income.

• Company buyout plans.

However, 20 percent of your weekly unemployment benefit is exempt from deductions.

Social Security, military reserve pay for drills, rental income and interest dividends will never be deducted from your benefits.

Benefits that are paid at the full allowable amount typically last 26 weeks.

Ohio Unemployment Eligibility During COVID-19

Again, the ODJFS relaxed or waived several eligibility requirements:

• You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you lost your job or had hours reduced solely because of COVID-19.

• You may qualify if a doctor, health agency or your employer asked you to self-quarantine. You don’t absolutely have to have documentation of this, but get it if it’s accessible.

• Ohio unemployment services are now temporarily open to part-time workers, self-employed people, 1099 tax filers and people who normally wouldn’t have a sufficient work history.

• The job search requirements have been waived during the emergency.

• Benefits may be extended for up to 39 weeks.

If you don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, you might qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA. It provides $600 per week through late July. Even if you’ve exhausted all your unemployment and extensions, the ODJFS urges you to apply anyway.

How to Apply for Unemployment in Ohio

You can apply for assistance by telephone at 877-644-6562. Call centers operate 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. Have a pen handy so that you can take down information and instructions.

It’s usually easier and faster to apply online, and you can access the system 24/7 every day.

In either case, gather this information before you start:

• Name, address, phone number and email address.

• Social Security number, or SSN, and date of birth.

• Driver’s license or state ID number.

• If claiming dependents, your spouse’s name, SSN and date of birth along with dependents’ names, SSNs and dates of birth.

• If applicable, alien registration number and expiration date.

• Name, address, phone number, and dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past six weeks of employment.

• Reason for separation from your job.

• Your regular occupation and job skills.

Additional information is required if you worked out of state, have worked for the federal government, or are separated from military service:

• Form DD-214, Member 4 copy (for military service).

• SF-8 or SF-50 form (for federal government employment).

To apply for unemployment, follow these steps on the ODJFS website:

• Click on the unemployment link under “Online” in the first paragraph.

• Select from either “View FAQs” or “Get Started Now.”

• Fill in the straightforward application from there.

If you’ve exhausted benefits and want to apply only for PUA, watch the tutorial here. There’s even more information about PUA and expanded eligibility here.

When you’re ready to apply, go to the PUA unemployment page. If you’ve never applied for unemployment in Ohio, click on “Apply for Benefits” at top left. If you’re already in the system, enter your SSN and password at bottom right. Simply follow the prompts.

You’ll be notified by email when a decision is made and given further instructions on how to request weekly or biweekly payments. The email will come from Be sure to check your spam folder.

Your Ohio unemployment application is very likely to be approved, so apply as soon as you separate from your job. We wish you good luck and hope you stay safe.


Frequently asked questions

What are unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits, also known as “unemployment insurance,” is a program run by state governments to help support citizens who have recently lost their jobs via temporary cash assistance. This comes in the form of a weekly check in the mail or direct deposit, based on the amount you were earning previously and how many people depend on you for financial support.

The money comes from taxes that businesses pay the state government each paycycle on behalf of their employees.

How do I know if I’m eligible for unemployment benefits?

You’ll need to check the eligibility requirements in your state, which can be found here.

Because of COVID-19, self-employed workers and gig workers are newly eligible for assistance, so pay close attention to any updated materials.

How long can I receive unemployment benefits?

After filing a claim, those who are eligible can receive assistance for usually up to 26-weeks, but this has increased an additional 13-weeks because of COVID-19.

Will unemployment benefits have to be paid back? Will I have to pay taxes on the money?

As long as you are following the rules of the program, which are specific to each state, the money will not have to be paid back. You will be required to pay a tax of 10% on the funding, which you can choose to have withheld from the check or to pay while filing your annual state/federal taxes at a later date.

Please note that it is illegal to file a claim for unemployment benefits if you do not meet the requirements. If caught, you face a penalty of even more than the amount received in assistance.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

Complete the quiz at the top of the page to be directed to your state's online benefit application.