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The Postal Service and Job and Family Services team up on unemployment registration

 A U.S.P.S. office in Powell, Ohio
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
A U.S.P.S. office in Powell, Ohio

People who apply for unemployment in Ohio must verify their identity. Most are able to do that electronically but, in some cases, they can’t. Now they now have another option – post offices.

Everyone who applies for unemployment benefits must verify their identity. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder said Ohio has demanded that verification since the state lost hundreds millions of dollars to fraudulent claims during the COVID pandemic.

“And those attempts at fraud continue. Every week when we report our weekly claims numbers, we report the number of claims that were flagged for additional verification. And so just because the pandemic is over and the enhanced benefits are gone doesn’t mean that the bad guys are not still trying to scam the system,” Damschroder said.

Normally, Damschroder said Ohioans applying for benefits could upload the documentation electronically, or send it via fax or mail. But now, because of a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, Ohioans can go to one of 726 post offices throughout Ohio.

“They’ll bring their identity with them. So, their driver’s license. Then the folks at the post office will get that information to us. And if it goes through, then the identity is verified, and the claim can go forward,” Damschroder said.

When verification is requested, the claimant has up to seven days to provide documentation. The service, which is offered under a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, is available free of charge to those seeking unemployment claims. And appointments are not needed.

Nationally, the program has been in place for a few weeks now. Early results show more than 3,000 people completed the verification process through the U.S.P.S. and of those, 98% passed the in-person verification. The option has reduced verification-related calls and duplication of efforts so unemployment staff can work on other duties. And the program seems to be cutting down on fraud attempts. The percentage of initial claims flagged for potential fraud from 38.9% for the week ending Jan. 20 to 25.9% for the week ending Feb. 24.
Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau.