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

Posted by: Jordan Wallace  | Tuesday, March 31, 2020

STATEHOUSE (March 31, 2020) – State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) 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.

"Governor Holcomb is taking bold action so that Indiana can utilize all available tools to bridge the gap until our economy bounces back," McNamara said. "All levels of government are working together to cut through red tape and expand access to funds for families and small businesses so they can have some relief during these unprecedented times."

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. McNamara 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.

McNamara 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 Indiana small businesses are making the tough call to close, let employees go, or significantly adjust their operations because of substantial revenue loss," McNamara said. "While communities are rallying behind stores and restaurants, that is not enough to offset expenses in many cases. Hopefully with these loans, employers can make the necessary adjustments to stay open."

McNamara 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. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) represents House District 76, 
which includes portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.