Indiana workers who have recently lost their jobs might be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments available to employees who are out of work temporarily, through no fault of their own. Although the basic rules for unemployment are similar across the board, the benefit amounts, eligibility rules, and other details vary from state to state. Here’s how unemployment benefits work in Indiana.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) administers unemployment benefits. You may file your claim for unemployment benefits electronically or by phone. You can find contact information and online filing information at the website of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
Once the DWD receives your application, it will send you a Wage Transcript and Benefit Computation, followed by a Determination of Eligibility. Together, these documents will let you know whether you qualify for benefits and how much you will receive each week.
The Indiana DWD determines eligibility for workers claiming unemployment benefits in the state. You must meet the following three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in Indiana:
Like every state, Indiana looks at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period). In Indiana, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you filed your claim in December of 2015, the base period would be from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.
To qualify for benefits in Indiana, you must meet all of the following four requirements:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Indiana.
Layoffs. If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
Firing. If you were fired because you lacked the skills to perform the job or simply weren't a good fit, you won’t necessarily be barred from receiving benefits. If you were fired for good cause, however, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits. For example, if you were fired for coming to work intoxicated, committing a crime, falsifying your job application, knowingly breaking workplace rules, or intentionally damaging the employer’s property, you will not be eligible for benefits.
Quitting. If you voluntarily quit your job, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had good cause. In general, good cause means that you had a work-related reason that was so compelling that you had no other choice than to leave. For example, if you left your job because of dangerous working conditions, sexual harassment, or your employer’s failure to pay you, you may be able to collect benefits.
You may still be eligible for benefits if you quit for certain compelling personal reasons. For example, you will not be disqualified from receiving benefits if you quit your job to relocate with a spouse who accepted a new job, to escape domestic violence, or to serve in the military.
To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?) If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
Whether a position is suitable depends on a number of factors, including how similar the job is to your previous employment, how much you will be paid, the working conditions, and the skills, experience, and training required for the position. The longer you are unemployed, the more likely you will have to consider jobs that pay less, and are in a different field or occupation, to remain eligible for benefits.
You must engage in a good faith search for work, including making at least three work searches each week. You must register for work at the Indiana Career Connect job matching service. After receiving benefits for four weeks, you may also have to appear in person to provide information about potential employers you’ve contacted.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, the weekly benefit rate in Indiana is 47% of your average weekly wage (to come up with your average weekly wage, divide your total wages during the base period by 52). The weekly benefit rate is subject to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $390. You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, federal and state programs may make additional weeks of benefits available.)
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have ten days to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. A hearing will be held on your appeal, typically by phone. You’ll receive information on the hearing, including how to participate and present evidence. If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, you may file an appeal with the Unemployment Insurance Review Board within 18 days. If you are still dissatisfied, you may file an appeal in court.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.