By Kelly Griese
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Unemployment is in the news a lot right now, and we know you have questions. That’s why we turned to our friends at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. They wrote this week’s guest blog.
Since mid-March when businesses began shutting down due to the coronavirus, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has paid out through the end of 2020 $6.3 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to nearly 775,000 Hoosiers. The $6.3 billion includes $4 billion in federal aid and $2.3 billion in state dollars.
That’s a staggering amount considering in the time leading up to the pandemic DWD received only about 2,500 claims weekly from individuals seeking unemployment assistance. To put the numbers into perspective, in a three-week period in March-April 2020, nearly 380,000 Hoosiers filed a claim for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.
As we enter 2021, more Hoosiers are returning to work and fewer are filing for unemployment. Yet for those who remain out of work, the federal government is offering more financial assistance through the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, known as CAA.
The Act provides for an extension of the CARES Act in the form of $300 in weekly unemployment compensation for 11 weeks through March 14. Both workers on normal UI and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will receive the extra payment to their core weekly unemployment benefits.
PUA was created to provide benefits for the self-employed who would not qualify for normal UI benefits. Under the new legislation, some “mixed-income” earners who get income from both traditional and self-employed sources now qualify for an extra $100 on top of the extra $300 a week. To qualify for the benefit, workers must make at least $5,000 in qualifying self-employment income annually.
Indiana began paying CAA benefits on January 8 to those on regular UI, retroactive to January 2. Eligible Hoosiers receiving PUA should begin receiving their $300 weekly benefit by the end of January and will be paid retroactive to December 27.
DWD would be remiss if it didn’t mention the numerous attempts by fraudsters to collect UI benefits through identity theft. The schemes of the fraudsters change on a rapid basis. DWD continues to send out notifications to claimants and businesses to alert them of the fraud. In one instance, the fraudsters set up a fake social media page and website and used the DWD logo to lure would-be claimants to it. The site claimed to be the Indiana Department of Workforce Developments. They put an “s” at the end of the word “Development”. This subtle change to the name is easily missed. We have since had the page and site shut down and are working with our federal and state law enforcement partners on this matter.
If you or your company believe you have become a victim of identity theft or unemployment fraud, contact DWD. More information on how to report fraud can be found at www.unemployment.in.gov, click on Report Unemployment Fraud.
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