Pandemic-related benefits begin arriving

From Local Sources

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers who are receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits have begun seeing the additional $600 weekly payment from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Though the additional funds began arriving in some unemployment insurance accounts on Friday, DWD said, the vast majority of claimants will see payments being made this week.

DWD says vouchers must be filed each week in order to continue to receive benefits. It is recommended to file the vouchers on a Tuesday or after during the week, taking the high stress off the historic traffic now hitting the DWD’s Uplink online system.

The CARES Act Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program provides those individuals with the additional $600 weekly benefit. FPUC is payable effective March 29, 2020, for any week of unemployment until July 31, 2020. DWD will pay this benefit retroactively to March 29. The $600 FPUC benefit is taxable and is subject to child support withholding.

“We are pleased that we were able to start getting these payments to out-of-work Hoosiers ahead of our goal of April 20,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said. “This federal assistance will further help those individuals who are not working due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To put the payments into perspective, DWD said this past weekend alone, Friday through Sunday as the FPUC payments were starting to be added, $276 million in payments were made over the three-day period. In all of 2019, $230 million was paid out through the Indiana unemployment insurance assistance program.

DWD says it typically takes up to 21 days for first-time claims to be paid if there are no issues on the claim. A claimant can view their Uplink Claimant Homepage to check for issues on their claim. If there is an issue, a DWD Claims Investigator will be assigned to analyze the claim. DWD is advising claimants with issues on their claims to not contact the call center to check on the status of their claims, as that only adds to the already large volume of calls the center is experiencing.

Additionally, the CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance creates a temporary federal unemployment insurance program for individuals not otherwise eligible for UI benefits, including the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, those seeking part-time employment, and individuals lacking sufficient work history but who would be able to work and looking for work were it not due to COVID-19.

PUA is not payable to individuals who have the ability to telework with pay or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

DWD says the new federal program requires an entire new system to be designed and built from the ground up. DWD is integrating the new system into Uplink so that these benefits can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible to impacted Hoosiers. PUA applications will be available in Uplink on Friday to those who have already applied for and been denied regular UI benefits. PUA applications will be available to others as soon as they apply for and are denied regular UI. DWD will be able to begin making PUA payments in May.

In addition to those programs, the CARES Act also provides the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which is an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits once benefits are exhausted for traditional claimants. This program is not yet available. Once available, eligible claimants will access weekly vouchers through the Uplink system.

DWD says the claims week runs from Sunday through Saturday. Most claimants file their initial claims and weekly vouchers on Sunday, followed closely by Monday. Claims can be filed any day of the week, and those filing on Tuesday or after will have a faster, less congested experience filing than those who file on Sunday or Monday. The extreme high volume the beginning of each week can result in maximum capacity and speed issues. It is recommended to file mid-week through Saturday for the optimal filing experience.

DWD has released a new set of simple, how-to videos to assist the user experience for claimants. The new video collection can be found here.




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