Bloomington area legislators highlight help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Wade Coggeshall  | Friday, April 3, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 3, 2020) – Bloomington area legislators are encouraging Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.

Under Indiana's temporary "stay-at-home" order, many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down.

To help, State Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomington) said Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.

"We must work together to get through this unprecedented situation," Ellington said. "The state has taken the necessary steps to help residents during this economic hardship, and we will keep looking for ways to assist as we move forward."

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19, and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls. 

According to State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute), Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks. 

"Right now it's essential that we slow the spread of this virus by limiting social contact," Heaton said. "Many Hoosiers are making tremendous sacrifices for this effort, and we owe it to them to provide whatever help is available until they can get back to work."

Due to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

State Rep. Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville) said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.

"Many small businesses were feeling overwhelmed at the onset of the emergency order," Mayfield said. "Having had a little time to adapt to the situation, they may wish to consult with their accountant or financial advisor about applying for the small business loan. Indiana is a resilient state, and these low-interest loans might just be the bridge that will help many Hoosier employers until this pandemic is effectively suppressed." 

She said businesses' merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.

For more information and to apply for a small business loan, visit SBA.gov/disaster. Hoosiers can also contact 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov with additional questions.

-30-

State Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomington) represents House District 62, which includes
portions of Greene, Monroe, Martin and Daviess counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute) represents House District 46,
which includes portions of Clay, Monroe, Owen and Vigo counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville) represents House District 60,
which includes portions of Morgan and Monroe counties.
She is the assistant majority floor leader and serves on the
House Ways and Means, Public Policy and Insurance committees.
Click here for a high-resolution photo.