One of the most frequently asked questions we've gotten since we started Ben Asks a Question has to do with unemployment. Why is it so hard to reach a human being when you call? What if you have a nontraditional job? When will checks arrive?
Today I asked Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who has been overseeing the DeWine administration’s handling of unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic, if he has a message for Ohioans struggling to file their unemployment claims. WCPO received a question from Amanda Levinsohn, who said she had gotten in contact with an unemployment representative to ask about members of her team who had been laid off. She said she was told their issue would be solved “immediately” — but nothing happened.
Ben Asks a Question is a feature we started as a way to help give you a voice during Gov. Mike DeWine's daily press briefings. Since then, Ben has gotten hundreds of questions a day. If you'd like to ask a question, find us on Facebook and feel free to message us there, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Husted said the question is hard to answer without specific knowledge of the situation but emphasized that he is in constant contact with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to try to solve problems like Levinsohn's. Husted said the state is “caught up” with current claims that have been approved.
“For everybody who has applied and been approved, we’re caught up. That’s going out,” Husted said. “But there are occasions when somebody may be contacting the folks at unemployment, and they don’t have all the information they need to actually apply. And I know that can be frustrating, so that’s why I would encourage folks, before you try to get through, go to the website and read everything you’re going to need to be able to provide them.”
Husted said there are some Ohioans applying for unemployment who are not eligible. Although he is aware of issues in the department, Husted asked Ohioans to be patient as the issues get worked out.
"I’m empathetic to what folks are going through … I just ask that you are patient as we’re building this out,” said Husted. “I know that if you are in desperate need of those resources, that asking you to be patient is not good enough, but believe me — everything that I get from you, I’m taking to them and asking them to solve these problems.”