COLUMBUS, Ohio — First, many Ohioans were locked out of their unemployment benefits accounts. Now, some are able to get back in, but they've been waiting weeks for that claim to be processed.
Lori Cline didn't expect to be laid off from her job. As her job search started, so did the process of filing for unemployment.
“I started having issues,” Cline said. “It's going on six weeks."
She was one of the thousands locked out of her unemployment account last month when the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said there was a spike in fraudulent attempts to access the system. The issue was resolved and ODJFS developed a way for individuals with locked accounts to reclaim them online. According to ODJFS, 5,000 have done so, so far. In all, more than 25,000 accounts were locked.
"It's been really difficult trying to manage,” Cline said. “If I get it little bit of money what bill is more important right now?"
Cline is able to get back into her account but is still waiting on her benefits. It's been six weeks and she is just scraping by.
"I had to borrow money from my own mom just to take my daughter had a doctor's appointment today. I had to borrow money from her just so I could have gas money. I've got disconnect notices for my electricity, you know, I'm the one that's responsible for that,” she said. “Nobody is going to cut me any slack because my unemployment didn't come through."
Another woman, who wants to remain anonymous, reached out to 10TV through email and said it's been even longer:
"In February 2022 when I went to file for unemployment, I uncovered that my identity has been stolen. The State of Ohio had paid the perpetrator of the fraud unemployment for several pay periods…. I have repeatedly for over a year now attempted to get my unemployment with no luck."
A spokesperson from ODJFS said in part, "There does not appear to be anything systemic going on right now. Our call volume and wait times are still longer than usual, but not to the extreme we saw early this month."
They went on to say, "Every claim is unique and is processed on the specific details of the claim. Depending on the complexity, that can take time."
Here are the three things ODJFS says to do:
Give them a call at 877-644-6562 early in the morning, after 8 a.m.
Use this online form to look up the status of your claim: https://odjfs.force.com/OUIForm/s/connect-ohio-inquiry-form
And respond promptly to any need for follow-up information on your claim. A common reason behind delays, ODJFS says, is waiting for additional information.
For Cline, every day with no check is added stress on top of the job search.
"What's been so frustrating,” she said, “nobody's relaying any kind of information to me."