Federal jobless benefits to be cut 16%

Checks decrease by $50 as a result of sequester


Beginning Sunday, about 37,000 Ohioans receiving federal unemployment benefits soon will see those benefits reduced by just more than 16 percent, or about $50 a week, as a result of the federal sequestration budget cuts.

Unemployed workers still will be eligible to receive 28 weeks of federal jobless benefits after they have exhausted their 26 weeks of Ohio jobless benefits, but the cuts mean that their federal check will decrease to $263 per week from $313. The cuts will impact those filing initial claims for federal benefits and those completing the first of two consecutive tiers of assistance.

“The things I’m telling everyone is that, first of all, this has no impact on state benefits or the length of the state program,” said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which administers state and federal jobless benefits. “The second thing I’m telling people is the federal program was designed by Washington, the changes they are making were done in Washington, and the cuts are all federally mandated. We are just administering those benefits,” he added.

The cuts will be administered to those who have used up Ohio’s 26 weeks of benefits and move to the first “tier” of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, which is 14 weeks. For someone in that first 14-week period, the cuts won’t take effect until he or she exhausts those weeks and applies for a second 14-week tier.

Starting Sunday, those exhausting those “tier 2” benefits will be eligible for nine weeks of additional benefits through a “tier 3” program because Ohio’s unemployment rate has ticked up (the unemployment rate averaged 7.06 percent over the first three months of 2013) and triggered extra benefits under a federal law that is separate from the sequestration.

As of April 27, about 91,000 Ohioans were collecting regular state unemployment benefits. They will be impacted by the cuts if their unemployment extends past 26 weeks.

Mr. Johnson said 37,000 Ohioans are receiving either tier 1 or tier 2 assistance. About 18,000 others exhausted all 54 weeks of benefits between January and this week and will receive notices they may be eligible for the additional nine weeks of benefits at the reduced benefit level.