I-Team 8

Hoosiers reeling from unexpected hold on unemployment payments

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jim Janulis called bill collectors to ask for compassion.

Aaron McCorkle anticipates losing the family home he inherited if he misses another payment.

Both Hoosiers are reeling from the unexpected halt of their unemployment insurance benefits as the state reviews their eligibility.

The process typically takes 21 business days and is required for new jobless claims.

But Janulis and McCorkle aren’t new claimants and didn’t report changes in employment status. 

They questioned why their claims were flagged for review but said the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) provided no clear answers.

The two men, who don’t know each other, filed their initial claims in March. COVID-19 halted McCorkle’s carpentry work in Madison County and shuttered the print advertising business Janulis ran in Fishers.

Both were deemed eligible for unemployment and received benefits for weeks before their payments were paused in mid-August.

By Wednesday, they had gone without benefits for three weeks. Mortgage, utilities and credit card bills were mounting, and DWD staffers weren’t responding to all their panicked inquiries.

“I’m sure they’re trying to do their very best but it just seems like it’s chaotic,” Janulis said.

In August, DWD staffers told Janulis he was among more than 20,000 Hoosiers impacted by payment delays caused by confusion over a new voucher question.

On Wednesday, a DWD spokesperson said voucher-related problems had been resolved and the department was not aware of further issues causing delays. 

Officials did not address why claimants already receiving unemployment benefits are under review or confirm how many Hoosiers are affected by payment freezes related to eligibility reviews.

Janulis and McCorkle aren’t alone.

Eddie Hager, an Indianapolis resident, stepped in to help people at his church file jobless claims when he heard they were struggling to secure essential benefits without computers, Internet access or digital literacy.

He said three Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) vouchers he helped file, including McCorkle’s, are under review.

“One woman received 14 weeks of [unemployment benefits]. But then the eligibility [notification] came on and she was denied five weeks in a row,” Hager told News 8. “They’re just going to give up. It’s too complicated.”

  • MISSING PAYMENTS? Continuing filing weekly vouchers. If your case is reviewed and determined to be eligible, you should receive unemployment payments for all approved vouchers.