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Clock ticking for 230,000 Hoosiers on unemployment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The clock is ticking for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Hoosiers who are still waiting on a judge’s ruling to return expanded benefits to their bank accounts.

About 230,000 Indiana residents are receiving unemployment benefits, according to The Century Foundation. Some 177,000 have been left without any jobless payments, and the rest lost the $300 federal weekly boost.

Giovanni Chavez and others in the same predicament are worried, especially because the first of the month and the due date for a rent payment is a day away.

Chavez first went to file his voucher early Sunday morning, but when he went to the website and logged in there was nothing there to file.

“That was the first flag,” Chavez said. “‘Oh, god, I’m not going to get paid. This is going to be a rough week.”

The week hasn’t gotten any easier.

News 8 talked to Chavez on Friday after a Marion County judge’s ruling came out giving the expanded federal unemployment benefits a temporary lifeline until his final ruling, benefits affecting an estimated 230,000 Hoosiers.

“It’s a relief,” he said then.

But now, it’s a different set of feelings.

“I’m worried,” Chavez said. “I know there’s a lot of people just like me. We don’t know.”

He said there’s no update on the Indiana Department of Workforce Development page or communication from them. When he called, they couldn’t help either.

As News 8 reported Monday, the agency can’t tell us if past claimants can just pick up where they left off or if they need to re-apply. No one could tell News 8 when the program will be available.

Chavez said that’s not good enough.

“They have the power to push the button and pay us,” he said. “They have the power to release those funds from what I’m feeling. I feel like they’re not doing anything.”

Even with a master’s degree, he said he just can’t find a job.

“I don’t know what to do,” Chavez said.

All he does know is that bills are coming and he’s not sure his next move. He’s trying to make arrangements now.

“I even told them I was on the news. They were like, ‘I was reading that.’”

So the waiting and the worrying continues for Chavez and hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers just like him, not sure what they should do next.

“We’re just left in the dark, frustrated, scared, everyone has bills,” Chavez said. “Good thing it’s not wintertime. If it was winter, it would be even worse.”

As our News 8 reported Monday, according to Indiana Legal Services, the state’s appeal of the ruling does not change the obligation to pay benefits.

State officials said updated information will go up on the Department of Workforce Development website.