Here’s why some transgender Ohioans are having a hard time getting unemployment benefits

Some transgender people have reported difficulty filing for Ohio’s Unemployment Benefits. After some investigation, Equality Ohio’s Legal Clinic has found the best process for resolving this difficulty.

⚠️ Here is what’s going on.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ does not have a policy of turning away transgender people, but they do have a data problem that results in anybody with a legal name change history potentially experiencing a in challenge receiving benefits. We’ll work with them to fix this, but it will take time. If this problem affects you, you probably cannot wait. Here’s what you can do right now.

It is incredibly hard to speak to a person at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services right now, so be sure to go through these steps before trying if possible. 

  1. Go to the ODJFS website and file your claim
  2. In the event that you receive notification that your name does not match in the system, you will need to file in your dead/former name. This is not ideal, nor should you have to, but this system cannot be fixed right now with the heavy load ODJFS is facing. Equality Ohio will continue working on this.
  3. After filing in your dead name,  submit proof of your name change to UI_Respond@jfs.ohio.gov or by fax to 614-466-7449. Please include all that you have including: state identification, U.S. Passport, Social Security Card, birth certificate and evidence of name change journal entry (you may have left the courtroom with a certified journal entry––if you do not have this, use a screen shot of the court docket as a last resort). Be sure to include your former name and current name, the case number from your unemployment application, and your date of birth in the email or fax.
  4. You will receive an email back notifying you of the receipt of your email and then a confirmation of your next steps.

Note: There is a delay due to the number of folks accessing the system. We are seeing the time between submission and verification with next steps taking approximately 5-6 days.

⚠️You’re not alone. Equality Ohio Legal Clinic is here.

If you follow this procedure and continue to have problems, please use our virtual legal clinic––you can try scheduling during our open hours on Tuesdays, or fill out an intake form and we will call you.

Our legal clinic is free, but there is an income limit––however, if you’re experiencing this problem, that is not likely an issue. Please fill out an intake if you need help.