COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Four months after its creation, the Unemployment Modernization Compensation and Improvement Council had its first meeting to try and reform Ohio’s troubled unemployment system. Much of the meeting involved Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Henderson providing an update to the council on the status of current issues.
As for the current time it’s taking to process claims, FOX19 NOW learned that despite a federal mandate ordering states to process claims within 21 days, it’s taking up to 70 days for Ohio to process four out of every 10 claims.
Director Henderson revealed that despite now having more than 800 agents in the call center, the current average hold time for someone calling into the office is 34 minutes. Henderson said the office is working toward getting to 1300 agents by the end of March.
New Website and Technology
Henderson says the office will soon launch a new website that allows people to fill out customer service complaints. As for the system that handles claims, its new version called “The Source” won’t go online until November 2022. It will be a cloud-based system and can combine the tax, processing and appeals systems into one.
Director Henderson said the state paid out $331 million dollars to fraudulent claims in 2020 for the Pandemic Unemployment Program, or PUA. The state of Ohio administers this system for the federal government.
Ohio Auditor Keith Faber has begun an audit of ODJFS.
“Most likely going to be a series of factors and events that we’re going to fix for next time.” Auditor Faber said. “Because Bob and Betty Buckeye deserve better, and that is our focus, and that is what I hear this group talking about. And so we’re going to try and identify how we make sure that nobody waits for 40 hours anymore to get their essential benefits, to feed their family, and make sure their kids aren’t going to starve.”
The auditor’s office is going to delve into 18 different items with a heavy focus on customer service issues. His office is currently in the planning stage. The office must provide its report to the council by July 1st.
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