INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state government claims to have stopped thousands of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits from being paid.
But, the process has slowed down many legitimate claims from being paid.
Last week, 200,000 Hoosiers filed for unemployment, according to the state’s figures, and 30,000 of those claims will have to wait longer than three weeks before they can claim benefits.
An Indianapolis man who filed for unemployment in December has heard nothing. Cameron St. Andrew is an Army reservist. His last full-time civilian job was with the U.S census as a field manager. Before the end of the census, his military unit was called up to help in Texas.
“And when I came back the census had officially ended and so I filled for my unemployment at that time,” St. Andrew said.
St. Andrew said he filed his initial claim for unemployment on Dec. 11. His ID was verified through the ID.ME app. So, he waited a couple weeks before calling to check on his claim.
St. Andrew has spent most of his adult working career in the National Guard and Army Reserve, so he’s familiar with the speed of bureaucracy. “I really did expect some delay. There is a lot going on, and I knew there was a lot of people filling and so I expected there to be a delay, but I didn’t expect it to be 15 weeks.”
Every day, he has checked the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s claimants’ website for messages and filled out the weekly job-application report.
The Department of Workforce Development declined an on-camera interview with News 8.
St. Andrew said he has gotten by with credit cards, personal loans from a family friend, occasional military missions. The stimulus checks helped him pay his home mortgage.
But, he has racked up several thousand dollars in debt. After months of waiting, he called the Department of Workforce Development again, and a representative told him his claim had been expedited.
“This last time I called, which was the fourth time, I was actually told there was no such thing as expediting a claim and that I would just have to wait, and that everything looks fine, I just have to wait” St. Andrew said.
“Roughly 85% of eligible claimants are paid within 21 days. The remainder have some sort of issue that requires further investigation. DWD is working as quickly as possible to get those investigations resolved. As of April 28, DWD has paid more than 855,000 claimants $8.1 billion since the pandemic began in March 2020.”Scott Olson, media director, Indiana Department of Workforce Development