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What to do if you don't qualify for unemployment

Posted at 10:57 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 10:57:25-04

ANDERSON, Ohio — Brandi and Michael Ponchot of Anderson have four children, a fifth due next month. Due to the coronavirus, they now have no income.

Brandi is on leave from Amazon, and coronavirus forced Michael, a manager at LaRosa's, into quarantine in recent days.

"We've been fighting to get unemployment for three weeks now and still nothing,” Brandi told WCPO 9 News.

Michael does not have COVID-19, but is at high-risk because he takes prescriptions that weaken his immune system.

A doctor's note filed in his unemployment claim says he needs to isolate for six to eight weeks.

But the man who has held his job for 17 years and never takes more than a week off was denied unemployment. Ponchot got a letter Monday claiming he did not work long enough or make enough money to qualify.

"It makes me feel like his life isn't valued,” Brandi said. “He needs to go ahead and take that risk and go to work because that's the only way we're going to be able to provide for our family. Otherwise, we're just going to have to go without."

The Ponchots aren’t alone, as 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims just last week.

Officials say old computer systems are slowing down many states, including Ohio.

With updates in place, the Department of Job and Family Services hopes to pay more by the end of next week.

"We did have all of our bills paid, so it's not like we're struggling to pay anything, but it's the uncertainty going forward. If we don't have the income coming in, how are we going to continue to pay the bills that are going to continue to come?" she said.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent order extends unemployment benefits to people quarantined because of the coronavirus, both people who are infected or at high risk of infection.

The order also waives requirements that those people continue to seek work while receiving benefits.

The federal CARES Act also covers the self-employed and those ineligible for state unemployment as long as they are able, available and actively searching for work. The only exceptions are those not able to search for work because of coronavirus.

A spokesperson told WCPO that unemployment officials are looking into the Ponchots' claim, but the family is uncertain when -- or if -- a check will come.