Backlog in pandemic unemployment leaves Ohioans anxiously waiting

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 6:44 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Frustrations are growing for people still trying to collect unemployment related to the coronavirus. Some people are caught up in fraud issues that date back to last summer and that are still not resolved.

Toledo’s Matthew Lewis already has underlying lung issues. When more was understood about COVID-19 and how it affects the body, Lewis wasn’t taking any chances.

“I immediately have been in the house the entire time and didn’t want any part of it,” said Lewis.

He was eligible and received some unemployment benefits after applying in May. But then he like so many were flagged for fraud late in June after using Cash App as his method of payment.

He wasn’t committing fraud but was caught up in the state crackdown.

“They ask me for information on top of information, on top of information and I gave it to them,” said Lewis.

He checks the online portal over and over again. His claims are there. The dates and amounts he should be getting are there. It even shows his case as pending after submitting even more documentation in December. What he needs now more than anything else are the dollars.

“I can’t express how much grief and struggle and emotional stress on top of emotional stress that I feel everyday because I don’t know how I’m going to make it day by day,” said Lewis.

The state has brought in a private company to work on claims and help clean up a system that’s been massively overwhelmed and hopefully help the people who need it.

At Monday’s COVID briefing with Governor Mike DeWine we learned more about those private sector plans to get calls processed and root out fraud.

The state has signed a contract with IBM to help with the call center for claims. It’s also signed with LexisNexis to watch for fraudulent claims. A total of 12 private sector companies are now working on a 4-week “agile sprint” to get more claims done and to be a first line of defense against fraud.

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