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Ohio paid out more than $2 billion in fraud, overpayments for unemployment benefits since start of COVID-19 pandemic

Also, Ohioans who are on unemployment will no longer receive the additional $300 federal payment effective June 26.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reports the state has paid out more than $2.1 billion in fraudulent or overpaid unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.  

According to interim ODJFS director Matt Damschroder, since the pandemic began, Ohio has issued $462 million in fraudulent payments and $1.66 billion in overpayments. The $1.66 billion in overpayments includes both federal and state benefits.

"No state has been immune," said Damschroder regarding the fraud and overpayment mistakes. Damschroder has been in place as interim director of the ODJFS since March.

Damschroder's announcement about the fraud and overpayments overshadowed his reamarks about the changes coming to Ohio’s unemployment benefits. Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine announced his plan to drop the additional $300 federal payments starting June 26.

"Ohio is now in the stage of recovery," Damschroder said. "What is clear is that workers are no longer out of work because of the pandemic shutdown. The extra $300-a-week in payments is now discouraging some people from getting back to work."

Ohio now joins a handful of other states that have opted to end the extra unemployment money while citing the number of available jobs.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine announces Ohio will opt out of $300 federal unemployment program starting June 26

Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Monday that businesses can report employees who are receiving benefits and refusing to work.

The ODJFS website states that good causes to allow a person to refuse work include a medical professional’s recommendation, being 65 years or older, potential exposure to COVID-19, staying home to care for someone from COVID-19, or evidence that the job would not allow the employee to practice social distancing.

Should an employer report a person, the ODJFS would open an investigation.

For more information on how to report an employee refusing to work, click here.

You can watch the full ODJFS press conference from Monday, May 17 in the player below:

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