An Indiana judge just preserved extra unemployment benefits for thousands

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Indiana’s early end to unemployment benefits is on pause after a ruling in state court.
  • A judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought against the state.
  • Jobless workers in other states have brought similar suits over benefits ending before September.
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Indiana residents were set to see their unemployment benefits cut off, but that just changed after a ruling in state court.

On Friday, Judge John Hanley issued an order in a lawsuit brought against the state by residents due to lose their benefits. The firms had requested a preliminary injunction that would pause the expiration of benefits as the case progressed.

“Indiana law recognizes the importance of these benefits. Indiana law requires the State to accept these benefits,” the decision said. It concludes: “Indiana shall notify the US Department of Labor immediately of its continued participation in the CARES Act programs pending further action by this Court.”

Benefits in Indiana were set to expire on June 19, meaning that recipients likely couldn’t file for continued benefits this week. The state was halting its participation in all federal benefits, including programs that expanded eligibility for unemployment and the number of weeks they can be received. Those programs are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC); jobless workers receiving aid from either were set to lose all of their benefits.

“Continuing the expanded unemployment benefits is meaningful to our clients and Hoosiers across the state who have relied on this assistance throughout the pandemic,” co-counselors Jennifer Terry of Indiana Legal Services (ILS) and Jeffrey Macey of Macey Swanson Hicks & SauerMacey Swanson, the two law firms that brought the suit, said in a statement provided to Insider. “While there will be further legal proceedings in this case, we look forward to the state following the judge’s orders to reinstate the benefits for so many in need right now.”

Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow and jobless policy expert at the left-leaning Century Foundation, told Insider on June 15 that 66,000 Indiana residents were on PEUC and 111,000 were on PUA.

Stettner gave “kudos” to the judge for Friday’s decision in a statement to Insider, saying that Hanley’s decision was a recognition that the purpose of the state “is to reduce harm” on the unemployed.

So far, 26 states have moved to prematurely end their participation in federal unemployment benefits, which are currently set to expire in September. Workers in Texas and Maryland have also filed lawsuits against the state over the decision to end benefits prematurely.

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