The state of Indiana has been forced by a federal judge to restart expanded COVID-19 unemployment benefits. The judge ruled that Governor Eric Holcomb was in violation of state law when he opted the state out of the program on June 19th.
The governor’s office says they acknowledge the ruling by the judge and that they will comply with the order. In doing so, the state plans to restart the distribution of expanded benefits on Friday, July 16.
Despite the program being restarted in Indiana, there is still a lot of confusion for many Hoosiers who received benefits in the past and are now being ordered to re-pay some of their benefits.
Cythnia Shipley is a contract dog groomer. The place she worked permanently closed in the fall. The state has ordered her to repay $11,000 she doesn’t have; her house is in foreclosure, and money is running out.
“But, once I pay my utilities and my phone bill to (be able to) apply for jobs and whatnot, I’m broke,” Shipley said to WISH-TV.
Joann Reffitt is a school portrait photographer. Her company was forced to shut down during the pandemic. She has been ordered to repay nearly $4,000 of unemployment benefits because of a mix-up over when where employer shut things down.
“Our bosses said, ‘OK, you’re laid off for the pandemic. Claim unemployment.’ So, we did, and then, after the fact, they came back to us and said, well, during this timeframe you guys shut down. Well, we don’t shut down, but they still say we can’t claim it,” Reffitt said.
Both Shipley and Reffitt were approved to receive the extra benefits despite the discrepancies they are dealing with. Other people facing similar issues have said that they have tried to appeal, but the state has said no.