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Hoosiers wait for judge’s decision on federal unemployment benefits

(WISH) — Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Hoosiers are waiting on a judge to rule on whether Indiana must continue federal unemployment benefits, but that ruling is not expected until next week.

Preston Peterson, 55, lost job as an equipment operator job in June 2020. He has relied on unemployment benefits and the federal pandemic unemployment payments. But that extra $300 a week stopped on June 19.

“That extra $300, that paid my rent. Now, my rent was due yesterday. It’s not paid yet. Everything, I don’t know. I’m trying to take it one day at a time,” Peterson said.

Things have not gone well for him in Crawfordsville since then. He’s considering selling his car to be able to pay bills.

“That kind of put us into a real bind right now. I lost my vehicle insurance just recently,” Peterson told News 8. “The house insurance is canceled.”

Peterson told News 8 he has applied for 50 jobs in the last two months, and three to four jobs on Thursday alone.

“I’ve got two jobs I’m waiting on the background check, but that’s taking forever. In the meantime, what do I do for income? I’m just sitting here waiting. I understand there’s plenty of jobs out there. Holcomb’s right about that, but there’s more jobs in Indy. I live in a small town. There’s not a whole lot out here. I’m just hoping that somebody calls me soon,” Peterson told News 8.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, ordered Indiana to opt out of the federal payments, saying it would help speed up the state’s economic recovery. There is a court battle over this issue.

In the meantime, a Department of Workforce Development spokesperson told News 8 on Friday that the department is still determining how to proceed.

“DWD is determining how to proceed because the federal programs in Indiana no longer exist after their termination on June 19. There is no action that a claimant needs to take right now. Updated information will be provided on DWD’s website,” said Scott Olson, the director of media for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

“I guess we’re going to have to wait. I don’t want to have to wait. I wish they would just figure it out today, so maybe Sunday we can file. I know I’m not the only one waiting. There’s a lot of us. I’m not the only one struggling,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he has decades of manufacturing experience, and he is going to keep applying for jobs and wait on those background checks to clear.

The Benefit Call Center can be reached at 1-800-891-6499 and is open for calls from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has a job seeker’s site, and the state job-matching and career-planning site called the Hoosier Talent Network.