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State working on policy for overpayment of non-fraudulent unemployment claims

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 4:49 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio’s overpayment of non-fraudulent unemployment claims now stands at $1.6 billion, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

In July 2020, 26-year-old Sarah Zolandz of Winton Hills got a letter in the mail saying she received an overpayment of $12,885 in unemployment benefits from the state of Ohio and had to pay the money back within 45 days.

“I could start a job today but within 45 days I’m not going to have anywhere near $12,000,” Zolandz said.

She eventually received a waiver that allowed her to keep the unemployment office’s overpayment.

Zolandz was not alone. As the pandemic continued, so did the state’s overpayments to thousands of unemployed Ohioans.

The money goes to those who qualify for the state’s traditional unemployment benefits program and/or the federal pandemic unemployment program.

ODFJS broke down overpayments to non-fraudulent and fraudulent claims for both programs since the pandemic started:

Non-fraudulent claims:

Traditional unemployment program $457 million

Pandemic unemployment program $1.2 billion

Total $1.6 billion

Fraudulent claims:

Traditional unemployment program $21 million

Pandemic unemployment program $441 million

Total $462 million

GRAND TOTAL OF OVERPAYMENTS $2.1 Billion

ODJFS has enlisted the help of former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers to try and recover any money that was paid out for fraudulent claims.

As for non-fraudulent claims that were overpaid, Damschroeder says hold tight.

“We’re working on the policy. We’ve just recently received guidance from the Department of Labor. And as soon as we have a policy in place, and a means of accepting waiver applications, we will reach out to every person in that category so that they have the information they need in order to either understand if there’s a blanket waiver or the process for applying for a waiver.”

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