Heaton: Help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Wade Coggeshall  | Thursday, April 2, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 2, 2020) – State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute) encourages 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. 

"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." 

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. 

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. Heaton 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. 

Heaton 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.

"This is an extraordinary situation we find ourselves in," Heaton said. "Ensuring our small businesses can stay afloat through this public emergency will help life and the economy return to normal much more quickly once it's safe again."

Heaton 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. 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.