Elkhart County lawmakers: Help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Wednesday, April 1, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 1, 2020) – Elkhart County lawmakers encourage 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, 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.

"Americans have made many sacrifices during this public health emergency, and Hoosiers are no exception," said State Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart). "Our state and federal governments have activated all available resources to help provide relief to families and businesses that have been impacted."

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 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.   

"To slow the spread of the coronavirus, unemployment claims must be filed online using a computer or smart phone," said State Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford). "You can also still connect to additional help through the online webchat feature or over the phone."

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. State Rep. Christy Stutzman (R-Middlebury) said thanks to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

"Indiana leaders have stepped up to ensure more Hoosiers can access these vital resources throughout this pandemic," Stutzman said. "These expanded resources will help those in need who are out of work so they can continue to pay bills, and support their families and loved ones."

State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) 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.

"It is imperative we continue to support our local small businesses as they have supported our communities for years," Wesco said. "This outbreak will come to an end, and business will return to normal. But these loans can give employers the aid they need to reach that point."

Wesco 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.

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State Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) represents House District 48, which includes portions of Elkhart County.

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State Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford) represents House District 22, which includes portions of Kosciusko and Elkhart counties.

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State Rep. Christy Stutzman (R-Middlebury) represents House District 49, which includes the eastern portion of Elkhart County.

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State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) represents House District 21, which includes portions of Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

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