Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 18, 2013

New rule requires in-person meeting for jobless benefits

About 40,000 Indiana residents drawing benefits.

INDIANAPOLIS — Unemployed Indiana residents risk losing their jobless benefits if they fail to show up for an in-person meeting required under a new rule that takes effect Oct. 1 and is aimed in part at reducing unemployment fraud.

The state’s Department of Workforce Development will begin mailing notices in mid-October to unemployed Indiana residents who’ve received at least four weeks’ worth of jobless benefits, telling them they must schedule an in-person meeting at a local WorkOne office or face the loss of their unemployment payments.

Currently, about 40,000 Indiana residents are drawing state unemployment benefits, while another 20,000 are drawing federal jobless benefits.

Department spokesman Joe Frank said Tuesday the provision is part of a jobs bill Gov. Mike Pence signed into law in April, and is partly intended to cut unemployment fraud.

“The whole point of this is to get folks re-employed as quickly as possible, it’s not to try to shut off their benefits, not to try to be mean to people,” Frank said.

The new provision requires one in-person meeting at which recipients will have to show a photo ID and undergo a review of their work-search efforts. They’ll also be briefed on WorkOne services that can help them find jobs, including workshops on resume-writing and job interviews.

The new provision is similar to a federal requirement that was part of Congress’ reauthorization last year of federal unemployment benefits, Frank said, requiring an in-person review after 26 weeks of federal benefits.

If an Indiana resident schedules an in-person meeting but misses it, he or she must contact the state agency, explain the reason for the absence and schedule a new meeting. Repeatedly missing such meetings will cost them their benefits, he said.

And, he said, “If they never show, they’ll never get back on the benefits.”

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