Northeast Indiana legislators highlight help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Jake Thompson  | Thursday, April 2, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 2, 2020) – Northeast Indiana 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. David Abbott (R-Rome City) 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.

"Helping hard-working Hoosiers get back on track after having their lives seriously disrupted is a priority for us," Abbott said. "There is anxiety and pressure coming from all fronts right now. Helping people who are out of work and struggling because of this pandemic is simply the right thing to do."

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. Denny Zent (R-Angola), 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. He 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.

"It's been difficult to watch what's happening in our community," Zent said. "Hoosiers need help, and this is a start to getting them assistance. I urge the people that need these benefits to reach out and apply."

State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) 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.

"Small-business owners throughout the state may be wondering how to move forward during these difficult times," said Smaltz, a small business owner. "These loans will help bridge the gap for businesses to keep their doors open as they recover and return to business as usual."

Smaltz 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. David Abbott (R-Rome City) represents House District 82, which includes 
all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.
Click 
here for a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) represents House District 52, which

includes all of DeKalb County, and portions of Steuben and Allen counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

 

State Rep. Denny Zent (R-Angola) represents House District 51,

which includes most of LaGrange and Steuben counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.