Unemployment compensation, also known as unemployment insurance, is a social safety net designed to provide temporary financial assistance to eligible people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Indiana’s unemployment compensation system is administered by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
The unemployment compensation system in Indiana is funded through employer-paid taxes and provides eligible people with a percentage of their previous wages for a specified duration. The purpose of this system is to alleviate financial stress for those who are actively seeking new employment opportunities. Benefits are generally available for up to 26 weeks, although extended benefits may be provided during periods of high unemployment.
An unemployment lawyer in Indiana specializes in unemployment law and helps clients through the unemployment compensation process. Unemployment lawyers in Indiana can help clients understand their rights and responsibilities, guide them through the application process, and represent them during appeals and hearings, if necessary.
They may also assist with negotiations and settlements in cases involving wrongful termination or other employment-related disputes.
How to Qualify for Unemployment?
To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Indiana, you must meet specific criteria, including:
- Monetary eligibility: You must have earned a minimum amount of wages during the “base period” (generally the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters).
- Job separation: You must have lost your job through no fault of your own, such as a layoff, reduction in hours, or closure of the employer’s business.
In Indiana, the monetary eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined based on the amount of wages earned during the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. The base period is the 12-month period that begins 15 months prior to the date you file your claim for benefits.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Indiana, you must have earned at least $4,200 in total wages during your base period, and you must have earned wages in at least two quarters of your base period. Additionally, your total base period wages must be equal to or greater than 1.5 times the wages earned in your highest quarter.
Regarding voluntary job separation, certain circumstances may still qualify an individual for unemployment benefits. Good reasons for quitting a job are harassment, unsafe working conditions, or blatant discrimination. In such cases, the claimant must demonstrate that they made reasonable efforts to resolve the issue with their employer before quitting. If the claimant can prove that they had a compelling reason to leave their job, they may still be eligible for benefits.
In order to establish good cause for quitting, you must show that:
- The working conditions were such that a reasonable person in the same situation would have quit;
- You made reasonable efforts to resolve the problem with the employer before quitting; and
- You quit the job only after exhausting all other reasonable alternatives, such as requesting a transfer or reassignment.
Here are some examples of situations that may meet the criteria for good cause for quitting a job in Indiana:
- Unsafe working conditions: If an employee is working in conditions that are hazardous to their health and safety, they may have good cause for quitting. For example, if a factory worker is repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals and their employer has not taken appropriate measures to address the issue, quitting the job may be considered reasonable.
- Harassment or discrimination: If an employee is experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace, they may have good cause for quitting. For instance, if an employee is subjected to ongoing racial slurs or sexist comments, and the employer has not taken appropriate action to stop the behavior, quitting the job may be considered reasonable.
- Medical reasons: If an employee has a medical condition that makes it difficult or unsafe to perform their job duties, quitting the job may be considered reasonable. For example, if a delivery driver develops a condition that affects their ability to drive safely, and their employer is unable to accommodate their needs, quitting the job may be considered reasonable.
- Family reasons: If an employee has to quit their job to care for a family member with a serious illness or disability, this may be considered good cause for quitting. For example, if an employee’s child has a serious medical condition that requires constant care, and their employer is unable to accommodate their need for a flexible schedule, quitting the job may be considered reasonable.
If you can provide sufficient evidence to support your claim, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits even though you voluntarily quit your job. However, each case is decided on its individual merits, and the final decision rests with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
How to Apply for Unemployment?
Applying for unemployment benefits in Indiana is a straightforward process, typically involving the following steps:
- Gather necessary information: Before applying, you should gather information such as your Social Security number, mailing address, telephone number, employment history, and reasons for job separation.
- File the claim: Claims can be filed online through the DWD’s Uplink Claimant Self-Service (CSS) portal or by phone. File the claim as soon as possible after job separation to avoid delays in receiving benefits.
- Register for work: Claimants are required to register for work with Indiana Career Connect, the state’s job search portal, and actively seek new employment.
- Weekly claims: You must file weekly claims to certify your continued eligibility for benefits, reporting any income earned and job search activities.
- Appeal process: If a claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. In such cases, an unemployment lawyer can be particularly helpful in navigating the appeal process and representing you during hearings.
The process of applying for unemployment benefits and any appeals that may follow would fall under administrative law as it involves navigating the regulations and procedures set forth by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Administrative law deals with the actions and decisions made by administrative agencies like the DWD and the legal principles and rules that govern their actions.
How Long Does Unemployment Last?
In Indiana, unemployment benefits typically last for up to 26 weeks under the regular state unemployment insurance program. However, this duration may change under certain circumstances or during times of high unemployment, when the state or federal government may extend the benefits, as was the case with the CARES Act during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Can I Do If I Run Out of Unemployment?
If you run out of unemployment benefits in Indiana, consider the following legal options:
- Check for Extended Benefits (EB) or other temporary federal programs that might be available during high unemployment periods.
- Apply for assistance programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for food assistance or Medicaid for health insurance.
- Look into job training and placement services offered by your local workforce development office.
- Visit Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development website for information on other resources and programs that might be available to you.
What Should I Know About Indiana’s Appeals Process?
In Indiana, if you are denied unemployment benefits or disagree with the decision made by the Department of Workforce Development, you have the right to appeal a decision. You must file your appeal within ten days after the mailing date of the decision notice. The appeals process consists of a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
You can find more information on the appeals process, including how to file an appeal and prepare for the hearing, on the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s website.
Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?
If you need assistance with an unemployment-related matter or workers’ compensation claim, reach out to an experienced Indiana workers’ compensation lawyer. They can help guide you through the process, represent you in an appeal, and ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
To find the right lawyer for your case, use LegalMatch, where you can easily connect with local attorneys specializing in workers’ compensation and unemployment law.