Thinking about filing for unemployment during the COVID-19 outbreak? Here’s what you need to know

by Nathan Herbst | Staff Writer

As the nation continues to cope with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, people may find themselves worrying about one of the outbreak’s most pressing effects: its influence on the job market. According to CNN, a record 6.6 million people filed for unemployment in the U.S. for the week ending March 28. 

As businesses and companies adapt to the constantly changing circumstances and adhere to governmental directives, many students may find themselves suddenly forced out of a job and wondering what to do next. Filing for unemployment insurance is one option many of those in long-term jobs should consider, according to Indiana’s government.

Scott Olson, media director at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said he recommended that everyone that has lost a job or had their hours reduced, file for unemployment benefits. 

To qualify for COVID-19 unemployment benefits, applicants will typically need to have been working for at least a full year and earned a minimum of $4,200 during that time, according to an Indiana Unemployment Insurance COVID-19 Work-Related Issues FAQ page. More details for specific situations can be found at www.unemployment.in.gov

Those who are not working, but still technically employed, can apply for unemployment insurance. For those with work hours that have been reduced, but are still considered working, you may still be eligible, according to Indiana Unemployment’s FAQ. However, the wages you earn will reduce your benefits. No matter what your current work status is, it is important for you to remain in contact with your employer and be ready to work again when called upon, as this is one of Indiana’s requirements for filing unemployment insurance.

If your employer is temporarily shut down due to COVID-19 or you are laid off, are in quarantine sanctioned by your employer or a medical professional or cannot work due to family or childcare responsibilities, you are eligible to apply for benefits, according to the FAQ. If you are already receiving sick leave or paid leave, you cannot file for unemployment. 

Anyone who needs to file or thinks they may be eligible should go to www.unemployment.in.gov and fill out an application. All applications for unemployment are currently being done online. If you think you may not be eligible but meet the major wage and time worked criteria you should still file, as the state has no penalty for doing so as long as you answer the application truthfully, according to Indiana Unemployment’s FAQ. 

Standard Indiana unemployment benefits are available to approved claimants for up to 26 weeks and are capped at $390 per week, according to Indiana Unemployment. However, the recently passed COVID-19 federal aid package will expand these benefits, according to Forbes

On top of the prior maximum of $390 per week, eligible applicants may qualify to earn an additional $600 per week for up to four months, according to Forbes. Furthermore, the period of receiving the benefits has been expanded from 26 weeks to 39 weeks, which should get those unemployed through to the end of 2020. 

The typical seven-day waiting period before you receive benefits has also been waived in most circumstances, according to Forbes. The bill will also expand unemployment benefits to those who previously received little coverage: the self-employed, those working in the gig economy and freelancers.

You also do not have to be looking for another job in order to hold onto your benefits. However, many state unemployment offices are overwhelmed due to the high volume of requests, according to Forbes. Those seeking to file may not get an immediate response but should be persistent and patient as everyone should eventually get a response from them.


For our latest coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus’ impact on the University of Indianapolis, go to http://reflector.uindy.edu/tag/covid-19/.

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