Rush County legislators highlight help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Randy Spieth  | Wednesday, April 1, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 1, 2020) – State Reps. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) and Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) encourage Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources.  

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.

"These moves will help limit the economic impact on our state," Saunders said. "Hoosiers everywhere are trying to protect themselves and flatten the curve. By expanding and streamlining unemployment benefits, the state is stepping up to help while easing some financial hardships."

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.

Ziemke 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.

"As a small-business owner, I'm seeing the effects the outbreak has already taken on operations and have heard from others looking for ways to weather this economic storm," Ziemke said. "These low-interest loans could help owners survive this challenging situation, and give them the opportunity to recover."

Ziemke 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. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) represents House District 54,
which includes Henry County and portions of Rush and Wayne counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents House District 55, which includes
all of Fayette County and portions of Decatur, Ripley and Rush counties.
Click here for a high-resolution photo of Ziemke.