Ohio’s self-employed, independent contractors and part time workers who haven’t qualified for unemployment benefits can now start pre-registering for pandemic unemployment assistance, though they won’t see money for a few weeks.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall estimated 150,000 people might qualify for these benefits. As of Friday afternoon, 1500 had pre-registered at unemployment.ohio.gov.
“It’s called a ‘soft launch’ so it’s not widely available to every person who comes onto the website. We don’t want to overwhelm the system," Hall said.
The system has been overloaded for weeks as nearly a million people have filed for jobless benefits since coronavirus shutdowns took effect last month.
Hall said more capacity to the site will be added in the next few days. But the system to pay them benefits, along with $600 weekly as authorized by the federal CARES Act, won’t be ready till mid-May.
Hall said the state has started paying those $600 checks to those who qualified for traditional unemployment. So far, $979 million in regular and pandemic unemployment assistance has been paid to nearly 400,000 Ohioans.