Ohio ordered to address appeals of unemployment benefits denials within 21 days

Ohio unemployment office ordered to adhere to state law despite pandemic
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown has ordered Ohio to follow state law and address all appeals of unemployment benefits denials within 21 days.

William Hummel, 21, of Columbus, was one of the millions of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic, forcing him to file for unemployment benefits.

Hummel appealed an April 5 determination that he was not eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

By state law, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) had 21 days to either decide on the appeal or transfer the appeal to the unemployment compensation review commission.

Hummel says neither happened in that time frame, so he sued the state.

“Throughout this pandemic, our attorneys have spoken with so many people that have found themselves in evictions, waiting to hear back on unemployment compensation benefits and pandemic unemployment assistance,” said Karin Nordstrom, Hummel’s attorney.

Court documents show the state argued that Hummel’s redetermination was delayed due to the sheer volume of applications during the ongoing global pandemic.

The court determined there is no exception to the law.

“It could mean the difference between evictions and putting food on the table and keeping utilities on,” Nordstrom said.

According to the lawsuit filed by Hummel, his appeal was granted June 7, 59 days after his appeal.

By then, he had filed for bankruptcy and court documents show he is now seeking $2,644 in monetary damages to pay for his bankruptcy filings.

FOX19 Now Investigates reached out to ODJFS to find out the percentage of current appeals that the agency has not responded to in 21 days.

ODJFS said they are working on getting that percentage to FOX19 NOW.

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