INDIANAPOLIS — Late last month, the second COVID relief bill was signed into law. Part of the $900 billion package was an extra $300 in federal benefits and extended unemployment benefits. While some states have started distributing those dollars, some Hoosiers are still waiting for their payments, and they are demanding answers.
“Those of us who are self-employed and had to stay home and teach our children throughout this pandemic, we feel very left out and like you don’t even think about the unemployment system,” Victoria Stackhouse said. The Anderson mother of four is asking for answers when it comes to the unemployment system in Indiana.
“I am feeling like it’s broken,” she said in a Zoom interview.
Last April, Stackhouse said she applied for benefits under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, with no complaints until it stopped in late December. “I mean we had to move our bills around. We’ve had to be late on quite a few bills. It’s been tough to not have any income coming from me,” Stackhouse said.
She added she feels lucky her husband is bringing in some income from his job, but still the family was recently granted a three-month leniency on their mortgage and is watching their spending. “If I did not get the stimulus then I would be drowning,” Stackhouse said.
Here in Indiana, those on traditional unemployment began seeing the extra weekly $300 federal benefit on Friday with payments retroactive to December 27th. That is not the case for Hoosiers under the PUA like Stackhouse. The state Department of Workforce Development had said it is waiting on further federal instructions.
“A lapse was expected. All of us expected to wait two-three weeks, but for zero communication that’s what’s upsetting,” Stackhouse said.
A spokesman for the DWD wrote in an email exchange Tuesday with WRTV, discussions are underway for implementing changes to distributing PUA benefits and an announcement should come sometime this week. The spokesman also added the guidance from the US Department of Labor came over the weekend and meetings happened Monday.
“I’d say my husband probably worries the most because his hours they’re not set permanent, it's pretty stressful to not have our full income,” Stackhouse said.