‘Human error’ is a top reason for jobless claim denials

A member of the National Guard loads fresh food into the back of a vehicle at The Foodbank Thursday. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
A member of the National Guard loads fresh food into the back of a vehicle at The Foodbank Thursday. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

The most important thing claimants for unemployment benefits can do to help their case — make sure they enter their bank account, Social Security and other information correctly, Kimberly Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said Thursday.

One of the most common reasons for claims denials are ineligibility due to not meeting the state’s requirement for wages earned or number of weeks worked in a particular job, Hall said.

Claimants must be unemployed at the time they file their claims, and they must have have worked a sufficient number of weeks and earned sufficient wages in “covered” employment during the base period of their claim, the state says.

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But there are other common — and frustrating — reasons for denials: Social security number mismatches, evidence of being “overpaid” for past unemployment benefits and penalties for evidence of “fraud,” Hall said.

“And I hate to add it, but I have to — human error,” Hall also said. “I have received multiples emails where individuals say, ‘I typed in the wrong thing,’ or what have you. And that can also trigger a denial as well.”

She called those kinds of mistakes “natural.”

“We know that they happen,” Hall said.

Of about 1.04 million Ohio claims submitted in recent weeks, 277,578, or about 26.6%, have been denied, Hall said.

More than 61% of claims have been approved, about 635,923 claims, she added. About 6,000 claims have been withdrawn by claimants “voluntarily” for various reasons.

And claims still pending have reached 122,705, which is 11.8% of all claims.

“We’re at 88% of claims being adjudicated,” Hall said. “We still have that delta, though, of pending claims, and that’s our key area of focus.”

For the week ending May 2 (last Saturday), the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 61,083 new jobless claims to the federal government, according to numbers released Thursday.

The number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last seven weeks — 1,118,569 — is 1,112 more than the combined total of 1,117,457 for the last three years.

In Montgomery County, 3,297 people filed new claims for benefits, while 35,616 filed for continuing claims, most of them since mid-March when coronavirus fears and government social-distancing orders shattered the economy.

In Butler County, there were 1,889 new claims for unemployment benefits and 21,666 continuing claims. In Warren County, 1,122 people filed new claims while 12,088 filed continuing claims.

And in Clark County, 620 filed new claims for jobless benefits while 9,315 filed continuing claims.