Ohio hands out $2.1 billion in unemployment overpayments, fraud

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state made about $2.1 billion in unemployment insurance overpayments during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Ohio’s human services agency.

That figure includes overpayments that were the result of fraud or errors, Matt Damschroder, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said.

Errors could involve mistakes by businesses — such as late reporting of an employee’s wages — by individuals filing for unemployment, or by the state, Damschroder said. The overpayments came in both the traditional state unemployment insurance program and the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The largest amount of nonfraud overpayments came in the federal aid program that covers self-employed individuals, at about $1.2 billion. The largest amount of overpayments due to fraud involved the same federal program, with about $440 million.

Ohio is working on a program that could establish waivers of the overpayments for individuals who received them through no fault of their own, Damschroder said.

Over the last 60 weeks, the state distributed more than $9.8 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 997,000 Ohioans, and more than $10.8 billion in federal pandemic payments to more than one million Ohioans.

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