Columbus – Nearly two months after Governor Dewine closed bars and restaurants, and a month and a half since the CARES Act was signed, Ohio's application system for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is live. 

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is the new program for those displaced from employment due to COVID-19 related issues, but ineligible for regular unemployment
  • Benefits date back to January, or the date of unemployment, whichever comes first 
  • Those ineligible for regular unemployment due to penalty weeks can also apply for PUA

The website for application is located here , and pre-registrants are receiving notifications to complete the application process on a rolling basis. 

“We're moving through gradually all of those who have pre, registered 'it's now time for you to come in',” says Hall, who says the email notifications are staggered to help reduce demand on the new system. 

208,000 Ohioans have pre-registered for the program created by the signing of the CARES Act which expanded eligibility to many who didn't qualify for regular unemployment benefits but were displaced because of the pandemic. 

The program required a new processing system to handle the different types of claims which are distinct from regular employment, Hall explained.The age of the regular unemployment system and its COBOL-based technology could not be enhanced to handle PUA. Hall says new system, designed by Deloitte, is cloud-based. 

This program also captures a new group of previously ineligible Ohioans, those who had penalty weeks under the regular unemployment system. Spectrum News 1 asked Governor Dewine about this issue, and on May 8th he clarified that Ohioans with regular unemployment penalty weeks can apply for PUA in a letter to Congressman Tim Ryan who also raised the issue. 

“It has been a moving target in terms of clarification in that regard on the federal level,”says Hall. The whole premise of PUA is to capture those who aren't eligible.” says Hall. 

Claimants for PUA will need to be able to provide identity and wage/earnings verification to receive benefits. Director Hall says that for claimants whose applications can be processed quickly, they can expect to receive payments early next week. Delays can be caused by incorrect or erroneous information, lack of documentation or other factors. 

JFS expects to release more guidance and help resources for claimants on the new system, and PUA claimants can call 833-604-0774 to reach call center agents for assistance.