Indiana once again began paying pandemic unemployment benefits — including the $300 weekly supplement — on Friday after the state Court of Appeals earlier this week denied the state’s attempt keep them halted.
Some 25,000 claimants have already received more than $33 million, said Regina Ashley, chief unemployment insurance officer at the state Department of Workforce Development.
The payments will be retroactive to the week ending June 26, she said. The state had stopped the pandemic unemployment programs as of June 19. Some 120,000 people were affected.
“There will be no gap in payments for eligible claimants,” she said, adding that the jobless can now file for the missed weeks.
The saga began when jobless workers filed a lawsuit in mid-June challenging Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s order to cease the payments early, arguing that state law requires officials to obtain all available federal insurance benefits for Hoosiers. The effort may have been the first one aimed at blocking the early termination of benefits, but unemployed residents in at least four other states have since followed suit.
It took several weeks for Indiana to restart the benefits, even after a state judge ruled in late June that the compensation must begin flowing again while the case works its way through the court system. The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday denied the state’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction issued by the lower court.
The state had been in discussions with the US Department of Labor to restart the benefits, said Fred Payne, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The agency also had to update its computer systems to reflect the change.
In announcing the resumption of the benefits, Payne stressed that the state also provides education and job training resources to help the unemployed return to the labor market.
Indiana is one of 26 states that announced they were terminating early at least one of the three pandemic unemployment insurance programs Congress enacted in March 2020 and extended twice. Most of these states have already stopped sending the benefits to their residents, in hopes of spurring the jobless to return to work.
In addition to the $300 weekly supplement, the federal programs provide benefits to freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus and to those who have exhausted their regular state benefits.
Indiana has paid out $8.6 billion in unemployment compensation to 875,000 people since the pandemic began, more than the previous five years combined, Payne said.
The three pandemic unemployment programs are scheduled to expire in early September in the states that are continuing them.
The unemployed in Maryland also won a court victory this week that is expected to ensure they will continue to receive the federal benefits for their duration. A state judge in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday, continuing his ban on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan dropping the benefits.
Cases in Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma are also working their way through the state court systems.
States that have terminated pandemic unemployment benefits early can restart the programs, but there may be a break in payments for some laid-off Americans, the Biden administration said Monday.
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