Some of the largest unemployment grants in Indiana history have been awarded during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these grants, have come large changes to how Indiana handles their unemployment claims. Whether these changes are official or have come about only in practice, Indiana has been much more lenient with unemployment claims during the pandemic period. Indiana is going against a couple of clear “norms” that have governed unemployment in the past.
Unemployment benefits have always had official guidelines in Indiana to determine whether you were eligible for unemployment. For instance, Indiana looks into you’re your last job ended. They also determine whether you are able to work with reference to transportation, ability, and other factors. Indiana also makes sure you are actively seeking new employment while you are receiving unemployment payments. In the past, these qualifications standards were strict, simple, and unmovable.
Whether officially or unofficially, all of these standards have become more lenient during the pandemic. Separation from your previous employer has a new way you can qualify: it just has to be loosely related to COVID-19. If work was suspended or unsafe in any way, you can usually qualify for what frequently turns out to be long-term unemployment benefits. Other factors were also judged leniently such as being available for work or actively seeking employment. Even appeal cases were frequently reversed without the normal documentation and testimony required. The pandemic has become all the evidence necessary many times to prove any element required for Indiana unemployment coverage.
Although the situation is developing, it appears that unemployment will not be required to be paid back. Unemployment can create situations where you are required to repay periods that were given out incorrectly because you did not officially meet the qualifications. However, with the relaxed standards already in play, Indiana is considering not collecting against overpaid parties. This would be a huge deviation from the norm that requires the repayment of all overpaid accounts.
Even if repayment is required, it may be very likely that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development may not require repayment after bankruptcy. Many times, Indiana will file a lawsuit against a party that they believe received unemployment fraudulently. It remains to be seen, but there is anticipation that these standards will also be relaxed as well.
Essentially, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development may soon give people unprecedented debt forgiveness. Unemployment may not be required to be repaid at all.