INDIANAPOLIS — It has now been one week since a Marion County judge ruled the federal pandemic unemployment benefits should continue in Indiana pending a lawsuit. But Hoosiers still haven’t received any payments.
Margaret Broderick says she has been out of work since the pandemic started and hasn’t been able to return due to safety concerns. She’s had trouble obtaining unemployment since November and still files a weekly voucher. But this week she couldn’t.
“The lack of communication is ridiculous. This is not the time. We’re not out of this. We’re not out of this whole thing,” Margaret said.
We listened in as she called the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. When she asked when she would receive the federal benefit, the DWD representative responded, “the department is reviewing the court’s order.”
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has declined our requests for comment this week outside of a statement issued Monday that the state is “determining how to proceed.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office stood by that previous statement Friday and says the state is working to comply with the judge’s decision and get back into the program. But Attorney General Todd Rokita says it’s not a straightforward process.
“Certainly, I think there’s a good faith effort on behalf of my clients to comply with the order in the meantime. But it’s a matter of physical ability at this point,” said Attorney General Rokita.
That’s because the state had to give 30 days’ notice to withdraw from the federal program.
“We’ve got an expedited briefing schedule,” said Attorney General Rokita. “The court has responded. So, I’m hopeful that the issue can be finally resolved in short order and we can have some clarity.”
In the meantime, appellate attorney Bryan Babb says legally the state doesn’t have to comply with the judge’s order, pending the motion it filed to stay the judge’s ruling. Since the court agreed to expedite the process, we could learn in about two weeks whether the state will be forced to get back into the federal program.
“That’s a very normal part of appellate procedure,” Babb said. “If you believe there are going to be problems complying with an order when you appeal that you probably can’t undo when the appeal takes the time to resolve itself, then you ask the trial courts to stay it.”
The Department of Workforce Development’s most recent statement says claimants don’t need to take any additional action to get their benefits. We’ll keep pressing DWD for answers and bring them to you as soon as we get them.