Cass County lawmakers encourage Hoosiers impacted by COVID-19 to seek unemployment benefits, small business loans

SOURCE: News release from Indiana House Republicans

STATEHOUSE – Cass County lawmakers encourage Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.

Under Indiana’s temporary “stay-at-home” order, State Reps. Don Lehe (R-Brookston), Ethan Manning (R-Denver) and Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) said 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.

“This pandemic is touching every corner of our state and we must act quickly to ensure Hoosiers can access the assistance they need,” Lehe said. “Thanks to the strong actions taken by our state and federal government, expanded unemployment benefits and small business loans are available to help ease some of the financial burdens many are dealing with during this time of uncertainty.”

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. Manning said thanks to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

“This swift and aggressive action ensures Hoosiers who need assistance the most can access it quickly and remotely,” Manning said. “We are living through an unprecedented public health crisis, but Hoosiers are resilient and I am confident we will weather this storm and bounce back stronger.”

He 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.

“Our small businesses are economic engines and often serve as pillars of our local communities,” VanNatter said. “While it has been encouraging to see Hoosiers support these companies, our small businesses still need some help to make ends meet throughout this crisis.”

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.

State Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) represents House District 25, which
includes portions of Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Tippecanoe and White counties.

State Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Denver) represents House District 23, which includes portions of Cass, Fulton and Miami counties.

State Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) represents House District 38, which includes portions of Carroll, Cass, Howard and Clinton counties.