Almost 24,000 people who received unemployment benefits will have to pay back the benefits as a result of overpayments, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) announced this week.
ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said that there is nothing she could do about the overpayments because it’s a federal issue, not a state issue, according to News5Cleveland.
“Any overpayment has to be repaid, whether or not it was due to fraud or due to lagging wage information,” she said Tuesday.
ODJFS has dealt with many issues during the coronavirus pandemic. To start, the ODJFS has fulfilled only 686,000 out of 1.3 million claims, which equates to around 52 percent of people’s unemployment claims.
Furthermore, the ODJFS has been subject to multiple hack attempts amid the coronavirus pandemic. On two separate occasions in May, ODJFS dealt with hackers.
The first incident happened when someone hacked into the state’s unemployment benefits system website and sent junk data to part of the website where employers “can report employees who quit or refuse work when it is available due to COVID-19.” This hack attempted to overwhelm ODJFS’s system so the state would have a hard time handling legitimate submissions.
The second hack exposed the personal information of at least 130,000 people who filed for unemployment benefits. The hacker obtained social security numbers and addresses.
Just this week, ODJFS identified at least 1,500 cases of unemployment insurance fraud, News5Cleveland reported.
In an attempt to fix the ODJFS’s problems, the Ohio House unanimously passed House Bill 614, which seeks to reform the state’s unemployment compensation system.
The bill has four main details:
1. The Modernization and Improvement Council will be created to meet bimonthly and evaluate the claim filing process and technological infrastructure. The bipartisan council will also examine ways to maximize the responsiveness for individual applicants and employers. An initial report will be created within the first six months of meeting and the council will review the report every six months for potential updates.
2. The ODJFS Director is required to create a written strategic staffing plan for employees who handle inquiries and a referral system for members of the General Assembly to report issues directly to ODJFS representatives in order to compile all information in one place.
3. ODJFS is required to have a complaint form in order to streamline the complaint process for constituents.
4. The Auditor of State is required to make recommendations on the efficiency of the claims process by examining specific metrics and reporting to the Modernization and Improvement Council.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.