Ohio unemployment benefits are only for those displaced workers who have worked a significant amount to receive the merit-based compensation. Part of ensuring that only those who have completed enough work receive benefits is enforcing the qualifying weeks rule. You must work 20 qualifying weeks for the DJFS to approve your claim. However, those qualifying weeks must occur during your applicable base period and from insured work.
When you apply for Ohio unemployment benefits, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services reviews your information for the state’s eligibility requirements. One of those requirements is that you have worked 20 qualifying work weeks. A qualifying work week is one in which you earned $215 before taxes or deductions. This ensures that only those who have performed a significant amount of work receive benefits.
One of the requirements is that those 20 weeks of work come from insured work, which is covered under the Ohio unemployment insurance laws. Generally, this includes more work than it excludes. However, it notably excludes self-employment, independent contract work and work where you were paid only through commissions. If you are unsure of whether your work counted as insured work, you should contact the DJFS for clarification.
The 20 weeks of qualifying work must also occur during the regular base period. The regular base period is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed for unemployment benefits. So, if you filed for unemployment on May 8, 2011, the last five full calendar quarters were from January 2010 to March 2011. This makes your lag period January 2011 through March 2011 and your regular base period January 2010 through December 2010.
If you don’t 20 qualifying weeks in your regular base period, Ohio will review your alternate base period for eligibility. The alternate base period is the last four full calendar quarters before you file for benefits. So if you filed on May 8, 2011, your alternate base period is April 2010 through March 2011. If you use the alternate base period, you must also use it to determine your compensation amounts. It might also affect future claims because that lag period you normally can use for you next claim is already taken.