INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — More than 700,000 people across Indiana have filed for unemployment at some point this year and among those, there are some people waiting months for help resolving issues with their claims.
Ted Bower started receiving payments in May, but a month later his account was flagged and the payments stopped.
“They’re non-responsive. I mean, you get a generic email,” Bower said. “A few weeks ago I was contacted by somebody asking a question and I answered it and then three payments came through for … June and then, that’s it.”
An email sent to Bower last week states in part, “We cannot give a time frame due to the high volume in claims that have to be reviewed. Just know that we are working to get your issue resolved…”
Bower and other Hoosiers are among those waiting for a claims investigator with Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development, which administers unemployment payments, to look into their case. The state added 300 new investigators after the coronavirus pandemic began, but more complicated cases that require a back and forth between the employee and employer are still taking weeks, if not months, to resolve.
“I think we’re probably still months away from feeling like things have returned to any sense of normalcy,” DWD Chief of Staff Josh Richardson said.
According to Richardson, 80 percent of weekly claims are paid within a day or two. It’s that additional 20 percent which are flagged for various reasons that must be resolved. Richardson said the sharp increase in fraudulent claims has also slowed down investigators.
“Even [though] there are probably fewer people claiming, fewer people waiting, fewer people calling … we’re still dealing with this fact that sometimes it’s hard to tell on the face whether a claim is a fraudulent claim or whether it’s a legitimate claim,” Richardson said.
Richardson could not provide an average wait time for people like Bower, saying each case is unique and depends on the amount of investigation necessary. That leaves Bower without much option but to continue filing weekly claims and waiting for help.
“You’re just like, ‘This is crazy,'” Bower said. “You can be sympathetic for a while but after that it’s, you’ve had enough.”
For an updated list of frequently asked questions provided by Indiana’s DWD, go to the link here.