Indiana restarts payment of federal unemployment benefits following court order

The state Department of Workforce Development issued 25,000 payments totaling more than $33 million on Friday and expects to make thousands of additional payments in the coming days, Regina Ashley, the agency’s chief unemployment insurance and workforce solutions officer, said during a news conference.

Posted: Jul 16, 2021 1:45 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2021 8:48 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana on Friday resumed making $300 federal unemployment payments to workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic after a court ordered it to do so.

The state Department of Workforce Development issued 25,000 payments totaling more than $33 million on Friday and expects to make thousands of additional payments in the coming days, Regina Ashley, the agency’s chief unemployment insurance and workforce solutions officer, said during a news conference.

Indiana state flag

The payments are the first to be paid since mid-June and will be retroactive to the work week that ended June 25, meaning there won’t be a gap in benefits for eligible claimants, she said.

They come more than a month into a legal battle over the state’s participation in federal programs that expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

In addition to resuming the $300 payments, officials said the state has restarted its participation in a federal program that makes gig workers and the self-employed eligible for assistance for the first time and another that provides extra weeks of aid.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has pushed to drop the state from the federal programs before they’re scheduled to end on Sept. 6, announced in May that Indiana would reinstate a requirement that those receiving unemployment benefits would again have to show they were actively searching for work as of June 1 and that the state would leave the federal programs effective June 19.

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley granted a preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit filed June 14 by two legal organizations, ruling that the state must temporarily resume participation in the federal government’s programs that provide unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

In his order, Hanley said Indiana’s decision to leave the federal program early violates state law, adding that the unemployment benefits are “instrumental in allowing Hoosiers to regain financial stability at an individual level while the state continues to face challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during its return to normalcy.”

The state attorney general’s office asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to quickly stay Hanley’s order, arguing that the state couldn’t continue paying the benefits because it had already ended its agreement with the federal government to administer the federal programs.

The state also argued that it wouldn’t have time to withdraw from the federal programs again should the appeals court rule in its favor.

But the appeals court upheld Hanley’s order on Monday.

State officials have not said whether they will next ask the Indiana Supreme Court to consider the preliminary injunction.

Should it do so and prevail in the higher court, though, claimants wouldn’t be asked to return payments, said Fred Payne, the head of the Department of Workforce Development.

The $300 checks have more than doubled Indiana’s average $280 weekly unemployment payment, which has a maximum of $390 a week, according to the state agency.

The changes cut off or reduced unemployment benefits to around 120,000 people in the state during the hiatus, Ashley said.

Holcomb and other state leaders have maintained that jobs are available around the state, and that ending the benefits early would help businesses find and hire qualified employees for thousands of open positions.

Supporters of the federal payments say they’ll help workers get by while looking for good jobs and that businesses should offer better pay and benefits to attract workers.

Payne said Friday that Indiana’s unemployment rate stood at 4.1%, which is down from the pandemic peak of 16.9% a year earlier.

The state has paid out roughly $8.6 billion in unemployment benefits to about 875,000 Hoosiers since March of 2020, Payne said. The average claimant received approximately $10,600 in benefits.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
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