Ohio Launches Online Application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – After almost two months of waiting, people can finally apply for benefits from the Unemployment Pandemic Assistance Program.

The state of Ohio launched its online application for PUA Tuesday morning.

PUA is designed to provide relief to waiters like Tess Haramis who have not reached the income thresholds to receive regular unemployment benefits.

She and other part-time and self-employed workers were eager to file Tuesday.

“I was like, ‘Oh, thank goodness finally. I just need something to happen, ”Haramis said.

The state is sending emails to people who have pre-registered for the program, ODJFS director Kim Hall said.

She said 90,000 emails were sent each round in order to stagger the number of people applying at a time.

The unemployment office asks people to wait until they receive their email before going to the PUA website.

“We’re not blocking anyone, but again, we’re trying to manage the volume,” Hall said.

At 10 a.m., Hall said 6,000 requests had been received.

Approved people can expect to see the money in their bank accounts by the start of next week, according to Hall.

So why has it taken so long to get the system up and running?

More than half of states already pay PUA benefits which are provided by the CARES law passed in March.

“States that had cloud-based systems to start with were absolutely more advanced,” Hall said.

Ohio didn’t. Hall says Ohio signed a contract late last year to begin converting to a cloud-based system.

“And then COVID came along and we had to pivot and focus on building our system,” Hall said.

Hall says the Ohio unemployment system was built in 2004. The new PUA system must be partially connected to the current system.

“We had to build a whole new system,” Hall said. “Some states were already cloud-based and it was malleable to rely on a new system.”

Copyright 2020 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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