Ohio Unemployment Information – Benefits, Eligibility etc.

  Last Verified: March 2017  

The Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is the party responsible for handling unemployment benefits in Ohio.  Seal of Ohio

Republicans in the Ohio legislature tried twice in 2016 to modify how the state funds its unemployment insurance program. Both times, they failed, thanks to push back by organized labor. One bill sought to add a state tax to workers’ paychecks, the second sought to cut unemployment benefits. Both bills were to reduce the strain on the state’s unemployment fund.

The state’s Republicans promised to negotiate with labor unions to find some way to make the fund solvent that both sides can agree upon. It’s a sign that Ohio’s laborers should become familiar with the state’s unemployment laws, learn how to file a claim that’s error free and fight for benefits if necessary.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in OH

To be eligible to receive benefits in Ohio, you must have earned enough wages in a 12-month period from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance law. Your employer will inform you they are covered. You must also be:

  • Fully or partially unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Be a US citizen or authorized to work in the US
  • Be able and available to work suitable employment

You must look for work while you receive benefits. To that end, you must register with Ohio’s employment assistance program, Ohio Means Jobs.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

Your actions or decisions cannot be the cause of your separation from work. If you were laid off or your plant closed, you are not at fault for your dismissal and may be eligible for benefits.

Able and Available

You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file benefits. You must also be available to accept suitable employment. Suitable employment is work similar to what you’ve done previously and/or at a salary similar to what you’ve received before. It can be work that you’ve received training to perform.

Legally Authorized

You must be a US citizen, or be able to show proof that you are legally authorized to work in the US, such as holding an alien registration card.

Wage Requirements and the Base Period

The ODJFS will look at the wages and hours you worked over a 12-month period called the base period. The period is divided into quarters. The first four of the last five quarters you worked prior to filing a claim will be your base period.

unemployment base period

This chart shows the base period.

The state uses the average weekly wage to determine whether you earned enough during the base period. To meet the minimum qualification for eligibility, you must have averaged $243 per week during the base period if you filed your claim in 2016. You must have worked at least 20 weeks during the base period to be eligible.

You can determine your average weekly wage by dividing your total wages during the base period by the weeks you actually worked (earned wages) during the period.

If you fail to qualify through this calculation, the ODJFS will use an alternative base period. The alternative base period is the last four quarters prior to your filing a claim.

Calculating Your Benefit Amount

The ODJFS also uses base period wages to calculate how much you’ll receive in benefits. The amount you receive each week, the weekly benefit amount (WBA) is one-half of the average weekly wage during the base period.

You can claim dependents when you file for unemployment, similar to how you claim dependents on your tax return. You receive additional money for eligible dependents. You can claim child dependents if:

  • The child is under 18 at the beginning date of the benefit year, or if the child is 18 or older and unable to work because of a permanent mental or physical disability.
  • You have paid more than half the cost of the child’s support for the 90-day period before the beginning date of your benefit year (or for the length of the parental relationship, if less than 90 days).

You may claim your spouse if:

  • You have been married 90-days prior to filing the initial claim
  • You live together
  • Your spouse makes no more than 25% of your average weekly wage
  • You provided at least 50% of their support

Once you have determined your number of dependents, you can classify them. This will determine your final WBA (not counting any other deductions, like taxes). Class A is with zero dependents, one to two dependents is class B, 3 or more is class C.

The ODJFS website has a calculator so you can estimate your WBA. The state also provides a chart.

Maximum Benefit Payments

In Ohio, the legislature determines the maximum benefit amount each year anew. For those who file in 2016-17, the maximum you can receive with class C for dependents is $598. For class B dependents, the maximum is $537, and the max with no dependents is $443.

You can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks depending on the number of qualifying weeks in your base period. Even if you have more than 26 weeks, you can’t receive more.

Extended Benefit Payments

When the unemployment rate is high, the state and/or federal government may provide for additional time for more benefit weeks.

How to Apply for Benefits in OH

You can file for benefits either online or by telephone. The online system is available 24 hours a day unless the system is down for maintenance. The phone system is only available during normal business hours Monday through Friday.

Telephone: 1-877-OHIO-JOB (877-644-6562)

Whether you file online or by telephone you will need to provide the following information:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver’s license or state ID number
  • Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address
  • Name, address, telephone number, and dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past 6 weeks
  • The reason you became unemployed from each employer
  • Dependents’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth
  • If claiming dependents, your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and birth date
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, alien registration number and expiration date
  • Your regular occupation and job skills

Former military and federal employees will need to complete and provide the appropriate separation forms.

Weekly Certification and Maintaining Eligibility

Once the ODJFS approves your benefit claim, you will need to maintain your eligibility status while you receive benefits. The state monitors your eligibility by requiring benefit recipients to file weekly or biweekly claims, known as certifying a claim.

In Ohio, you file a weekly claim for the first three benefit weeks. If you choose to receive information and correspondence from the ODJFS electronically, you can continue to file a weekly claim. If you choose to receive the same information by postal mail, you must file a biweekly claim.

You can certify in the same manner in which you filed your initial claim, either online or by calling OHIO JOB.

You will have to answer questions regarding your status when you file. The ODJFS will inquire whether you are:

  • Making a good faith effort to find work
  • Able and available to work
  • You have started or quit a job during the benefit week
  • You have earned any wages or income during the week
  • You refused an offer of suitable employment

If you have earned wages, you will have to report the amount you earned for the week you worked to earn the pay, not when you received payment. If you work full-time during a benefit week or earn more than your WBA, you will not receive a benefit payment for that week.

Back to Class

Generally, leaving work to attend school full-time is disqualifying. The state will consider you to be unavailable for work. However, if you were working while attending school and became unemployed during that time, the ODJFS may consider you eligible. You will still have to look for work and accept suitable employment offers.

If you enroll in an ODJFS-approved training program, the department may consider you to be eligible for benefits. Contact a job center for further information on training programs.

Part-time Work and Receiving Benefits

You may file a claim for benefits if you are partially unemployed and otherwise eligible. You may also earn part-time wages while receiving benefits on a prior claim. You must report the wages you earn, as the state will deduct money from your WBA based on how much you earn during a benefit week.

Ohio will let you keep 20% of your earnings without penalty. It will deduct the remainder dollar-for-dollar from your WBA. If your WBA is $400 and you earn $200, the state will deduct $120 from your WBA. Your WBA for that week would be $280, and you keep your $200.

Other Deductions

The ODJFS may reduce your WBA for other reasons. You may ask the state to take a tax deduction, you may owe child support payments or other penalties that the state will attach to your benefit payments.

Some income, like holiday pay or severance pay may further reduce benefit payments. If you receive a pension from your base period employer, the state will deduct the pension from your benefits.

The state may not deduct some types income you receive, like Social Security or National Guard reservist pay. You can read the ODJFS unemployment benefit guide for more information or contact a claims center representative.

Work Search Requirement

You will receive specific information when you receive a New Claim Instruction Sheet. This may inform you that you will have to apply to two jobs per week from two separate employers. You may have other requirements as well.

You will have to have registered with Ohio Means Jobs when you file your initial claim. You will also have to upload a resume to the site and keep it updated as a part of your ongoing job search requirements.

Your requirement may change during the weeks you are receiving benefits. The changes may include a change in your definition of suitable employment. You may be required to accept offers of employment for jobs that pay less than you made previously or in jobs in which you have no experience but you’re qualified to perform the duties.

You should keep a good record of your job search activities, especially the personal contacts you make. The state may ask for proof of your searches and applications at any time. Make note of the date you applied for work and any person you contacted directly.

Failure to make a good faith effort to find work may result in a denial of benefits. You would have to reopen your claim at a later date.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

If you fail to earn enough in your base period or you didn’t work enough weeks during the base period, you will not be eligible to receive benefits. The ODJFS will mail you an official notice showing the determination of wages during the base period.

Separation Issues

If you meet the wage requirement, the state will inquire about the reasons for separation from work. If you quit for a cause unrelated to work or personal reasons, the state will deny benefits. If your employer dismissed you for “misconduct,” the state will deny benefits.

Examples of disqualifying reasons to quit are generally easy to figure. If you just “got tired” of the job and quit, that’s a personal reason. If you quit because you couldn’t get afterschool care for a school-age child, that’s a reason unrelated to work, even though finding child care may be a “good cause” for you. The legal standard is a “good cause connected to the work.”

The “misconduct” standard is defined as some action or inaction showing a disregard for your employer’s interests. Repeated violations of a rule after receiving repeated warnings from your boss is a clear example of misconduct connected to work. Even a one-time violation may fit the definition of misconduct.

Quit and Still Eligible

Your employer may have done something or failed to do something to cause you to quit. The event or events had to leave you with virtually no other choice. You also have to have made a good faith effort to keep your job, like trying to work out a solution to the problem with your employer.

  • Your employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions
  • You were subject to harassment your employer knew about but failed to address it
  • Your employer reduced your pay significantly
  • The business moved too far to make it reasonable for you to continue working

There are some exceptions to having to show good cause connected to the work. If you were forced to leave home because of a domestic violence concern, the state might not consider quitting to be voluntary.

Fired and Still Eligible

Certain actions that your employer considers good cause to dismiss you may not be “misconduct.” A one-time, minor violation of a policy may not be misconduct. Being late to work for reasons beyond your control may not be misconduct, even though that late arrival caused your employer to dismiss you.

Other Denial Issues

The ODJFS may deny benefits for reasons outside wage requirements or separation issues. The possibilities include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Failing to perform a job search
  • Refusing a reasonable job offer
  • Failing to respond to an ODJFS request

What Happens When the State Denies Your Claim

You have the right to appeal any decision by the ODJFS. If you receive notification you’ve failed to meet wage requirements, or you believe the financial determination is in error, you may request a redetermination. You have 21-days from the mailing date of the determination to file your request. The department may change the decision or allow it to stand. They may also refer the issue to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission. You must file in writing, and include the reasons for your request along with supporting documents.

You can appeal the redetermination to the UCRC, where your issue will receive a full hearing. You have 21-days from the mailing date of the redetermination to file this appeal. You may file the appeal online.

Mail to:

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director
Bureau of Unemployment Compensation Benefits
P.O. Box 182863
Columbus, OH 43218-2863

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Ohio.


Here are some helpful resources for Ohio Unemployment:

Ohio Unemployment Benefits Website

Find Forms

About Unemployment Benefits Extensions

Ohio State University on Unemployment

Guide to filing online


  • Angela Woolsey

    I am being displaced from my current job for no fault of my own. They said informed me that so can apply for unemployment right after the official end date.

    I have never applied before, but am prepared to do so. How soon do benefits start via direct deposit? I plan on actively applying for a job during this time.

    I contemplated on doing side jobs online. Could I do so while collecting benefits as long as I am honest about reporting my earnings?

    • Expect a three-four week wait before Ohio has processed your claim and is in a position to pay you. Yes, you can do online jobs – but wait until your claim is established and you are collecting benefits.

  • Edward P Blankenship

    I recently was driving to work and was pulled over and taking to jai for not paying a speeding ticket from 98. Ive only worked there for 6 months anyway they terminated me for the mix up. I did however pay the ticket twice am i eligable?

  • pam Baechle

    If a company is being bought by another company and an employee decides to leave because they do not wish to work for the new company, are they eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Are you being discharged and asked to reapply with this new owner? If not, you can quit only if the job offered is materially different in terms of duties, pay, benefits, hours than the one you had. If that isn’t the case, Ohio will deny the claim.

  • Jennifer

    I’m unsure how unemployment works. I worked 5 years for company and was fired..I got approved for unemployment. I started a parting job while on unemployment that only lasted for 5 weeks. Unemployment office canceled my benefits saying since my most recent employer had just cause to let me go I’m denied benefits. I feel like I’m being being penalized for being honest about a part time job because now I cant receive benefits and I’m unemployed. Please help explain to me. Thank you.

    • Being honest has nothing to do with it. If you work and collect benefits at the same time, you MUST report those earnings. If you do not, you are guilty of fraud and could lose your right to future benefits for up to three years in some states plus be subject to criminal penalties. Employers report all earnings to the state. Sooner or later Ohio will discover those earnings when it cross-references your SSN w/benefits paid and earnings reported. So, you wouldn’t get away with not reporting those earnings for very long.

      The issue is not being honest. The issue is the part-time job, itself. Generally, it’s better to spend your time searching for another full-time job than to risk losing benefits because of an insignificant part-time job. If you quit or lose this job for the wrong reason, you are prevented from collecting on your claim.

      You need to appeal Ohio’s decision on why you lost the part-time job. Unless you stole, deliberately violated a rule – you should be able to resume benefits on the claim.

      Know that denials are knee-jerk reactions by all the states if an employer even hints at misconduct. Doesn’t matter what your side of the story is. Only at appeal are you given a real right to be heard. Almost 50% of these decisions are overturned on appeal.

      File an appeal request – now. State you “disagree with the decision and request an appeal hearing.” You don’t need to be more specific than that. Hopefully, you are still within the window to do this. Employer needs to PROVE what they are accusing you of. Most can’t.

  • Angela Kirk

    If I worked 6 years in Ohio then moved to South Carolina for a new job then was terminated after 2 months where do I apply for unemployment ?

    • You potentially have the best of both worlds – claims from both states.

      South Carolina won’t have any wages in its base period for you at this point and will deny the claim. Therefore, apply in Ohio- which also has a higher benefit. Your base period will be July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. If you are granted an Ohio claim, you can exhaust that.

      If you are still unemployed in June/July 2017, apply in SC. Ask for a combined-wage claim. At that point, your SC wages should be in its base period. SC will use those SC wages and what remains of your Ohio wages in the base period July 1, 2016-April 30, 2017 for the new claim.

  • Nicholas Justus

    Do I need 20 weeks from one job or can it be from two doing the same type of work? Also if my claim is denied because of not enough work weeks can I reapply after the first of the year for it to go off of the new base period?

  • ChefC

    Hey, on what day does the unemplyment checks come out?
    will the first unemplyement check be two weeks of pay becasue you have two wait three weeks; the waiting week being one of them or just one?

    • If Ohio pays biweekly, your first check will include only one week of paid benefits, the other being the waiting week. If you have set up direct deposit or Ohio has a debit card, payment should appear usually within three days of when you claim.

  • Lorie Gentry

    I was drawing unemployment last year up to October 2015. I broke my ankle so I did not reapply because I was unable to work at that time, Then I started college part time last semester and was trying to find employment that I could do. I had to have another surgery on my ankle that again kept me from employment, This semester I am attending college full time and have been unable to find employment that would not interfere with classes. Do I qualify to get unemployment benefits?

  • Scott

    Is there a lifetime unemployment maximum amount for Ohio? Also how soon can you file again if you already received benefits for the entire 26 weeks? Is there a limit to how many times you can file to receive unemployment?

    • No lifetime maximum, no limit to how many times you can apply, only one claim every 52 weeks. You cannot apply again until your current benefit year expires – probably 26 weeks from now. Try to find some work between now and then, holiday work, anything – or you will not qualify for another claim.

      • Scott

        Thank you very much! Thankfully I have never needed to go on it. I work 80 hours a week for as long as I can remember. I just know of someone that is always on it. So I was just curious.

  • James

    What if I got a job and didn’t start working yet but I didn’t pass the drug test. Can I still get unemployment

  • Theresa Payne

    I am considering a part time work from home job where I probably wouldn’t make $100/week. I receive less than $400 a week in unemployment. I am I still required to report these earnings?

    • Yes. Report the income the week it is earned – not the week you are paid. All states have anti-fraud mechanisms. Eventually Ohio will find out about these earnings and may pursue you for fraud, repayment of benefits, penalties, and possible disqualification.

  • John Burton

    How do I report a person working for cash and also drawing unemployment. This guy works on tractors at his residence all day long.

  • Joe SHerr

    i’ve worked for like 3 and a half months in ohio a few times and then been sent to work out of state for the company based out of ohio… am i eligible???

  • I filled on January 26 2015. It is now May 5th 2015. I’ve sent everything they have required yet have never received one payment. It’s ridiculous I’ve worked since I was 14 I’m now 40 and have never needed the system but the one time I do they failed me beyond belief thank God for my family’s help. I no longer have faith in our system.

  • I went through all these channels I have documentation to where my employer perjured himself and personal risk and injury from mold microtoxin exposure also supplied my DRS progress notes FMLA and mold air quality report. Also I had a wittness ( key wittness) who called in and never was heard nor able to testifying feel the dicision on unemployment was unfair hearing and inaccurately handled by hearing officer. I want a review by another hearing officer

    • These are your options:

      Redetermination: If you disagree with the redetermination, you can file an appeal with the UCRC within 21 days of receiving the redetermination letter. If the UCRC accepts your appeal, they will schedule you for an in person hearing or a phone interview. You can mail or fax this letter to:

      The ODJFS Director
      Bureau of UC Benefits
      P.O. Box 182863
      Columbus, Ohio 43218-2863
      FAX:(614) 466-8392

      UCRC Appeal: If your appeal with the UCRC is denied and you wish to appeal, you may ask for a review from the members of the commission within 21 days of receiving the decision from the UCRC hearing. This letter must be written and signed by the applicant. It must be mailed or faxed to:

      U.C. Review Commission
      P.O. Box 182299
      Columbus, Ohio 43218-2299
      FAX: (614) 387-3694

      Common Pleas Court: In the event that the UCRC denies your claim or refuses to review your case you can file an appeal with the Common Pleas Court. At this point you will have to have brand new evidence as to why your case should be approved. A list of common pleas courts can be found here: http://jfs.ohio.gov/unemp_comp_faq/CommonPleasCourts.pdf.

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