Ohio offering unemployed workers a new way to file weekly claims

The new "text-to-file" option is supposed to be quicker and easier to use.
Updated: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:58 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There’s now a new option for those who are on unemployment, and have to file a new claim every week in order to get paid.

Thousands of unemployed workers now have the option to file by sending a simple text message.

Director Kim Hall said Tuesday that the number of people using the new feature is increasing each week.

It’s supposed to be quicker and keep the state’s website from crashing.

JFS says an email about how to use the text-to-file option started going out in waves of 10,000 people at the beginning of June.

As of last week however, JFS says only 1,790 people chose to begin filing claims by text.

Obviously thousands are choosing to continue using the website.

After months of waiting for payments to come through by filing through the unemployment website, 19 News found that many people are afraid to deviate from what’s working.

Lisa Renfro has been filing for unemployment since she was laid off from her restaurant job.

“I was not interested in it at all,” Renfro said.

After waiting weeks and navigating through the woes of the state’s outdated system, she’s finally receiving checks consistently.

“Filing through the website at this point is extremely easy. It takes a matter of less than a minute,” she said.

Renfro says she doesn’t want to mess up what’s working for her.

In fact, Renfro and other unemployed Ohioans raise issue with the fact that the text-to-file option came before a fix to the many claims sitting on pending,

“Just getting all the people approved who haven’t been approved yet is where they should be,” Renfro said.

Plus, she says the phone lines remain overcrowded and difficult to use.

“To focus on people having a different way to file, I don’t think is where there goal should be,” she said.

We brought those concerns to JFS.

A spokesperson said, “Please keep in mind that by implementing this new method of filing, ODJFS is taking pressure off our online and phone filing systems. In other words, more Ohioans are able to file claims online or via phone because of the text-to-file option.”

It’s also important to note that Director Hall said the number of people using the new option may seem low, but it could be because people are returning to work and no longer need to file a weekly claim.

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