Indiana News

Indiana ended federal unemployment benefits. Now, that decision is being challenged in court

Indiana ended federal unemployment benefits. Now, that decision is being challenged in court


Some hourly workers in Indiana face demands to pay back thousands of dollars in state unemployment benefits they received this year. Here’s why that’s happening. Wochit

Two legal organizations are suing the state to prevent Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb from pulling out of a federal unemployment program that’s paying benefits to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.

Macey Swanson Hicks & Sauer law firm and Indiana Legal Services, an organization that provides legal assistance to low-income Hoosiers, filed a joint civil lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court, claiming the end of the benefits would hurt their clients and Hoosiers across the state.

The organizations argued that Indiana law requires the state to procure federal insurance benefits to its citizens.

“These benefits have provided life-sustaining and crucial assistance to many Hoosiers during the pandemic,” Jon Laramore, executive director of Indiana Legal Services, said in a statement. “The legislature passed a law creating a right to these benefits, and we’re asking Governor Holcomb to follow the law.”

Holcomb announced last month he was ending the federal benefits on June 19 because many businesses in the service industry are struggling to fill jobs. While economists are skeptical that unemployment benefits are the reason people aren’t returning to low-wage jobs, Holcomb is banking on the benefits cut to drive more people back to work.

The federal benefits expanded eligibility, the length of unemployment and added up to $300 per week to state unemployment. 

For subscribers: Indiana workers aren’t applying for low-wage jobs. So the governor cut unemployment.

“Eliminating these pandemic programs will not be a silver bullet for employers to find employees, but we currently have about 116,000 available jobs in the state that need filled now,” Holcomb said in a statement last month.

The governor’s office said in a statement Tuesday it has worked with the U.S. Department of Labor to end its participation in the program.

“DWD has timely notified impacted claimants about the state’s withdrawal from the federal programs and continues to connect impacted Hoosiers with the resources they need to gain skills and be matched with employment,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Contact IndyStar reporter Binghui Huang at 317-385-1595 or Follow her on Twitter @Binghuihuang

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Published at Tue, 15 Jun 2021 20:05:23 +0000