I-Team 8

Call to DWD hotline creates more confusion as frustration mounts

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne told I-Team 8 if someone was eligible for pandemic unemployment benefits and is being asked to repay, they should call the unemployment hotline.

I-Team 8 joined Sharon Baker, who is being asked to repay over $10,000, for her call Wednesday.

“Do you work in unemployment?” Baker asked the DWD representative over the phone.

“I work with Navient, a government agency contracted about a year and a half ago,” the representative said.

Baker tried to find an explanation for why she is being asked to repay $10,777 when she got all of her documents in on time. The representative was not able to give her a direct answer.

Baker then asked if she would be able to get on a payment plan if she loses her appeal.

“Yes ma’am, you certainly can,” the representative said. “You can actually call the overpayment department and call and set up a running system.”

This information is the opposite of what Baker heard from the DWD.

“She also gave me information I wasn’t aware of. According to the DWD website and claims department, you cannot make payments. That is not an option. Financial payments, you cannot make financial arrangements to repay,” Baker said.

Baker says the confusion just adds to her frustration as she fights for something more than herself.

“My sister had been diagnosed with stage three cancer,” Baker said. “My sister needs me. I need me.”

Baker says when she watched Commissioner Payne’s press conference last Friday, she didn’t feel like she got the answers she needed. She told I-Team 8, “Who’s going to pay for all the sleepless nights?”

She keeps demanding more answers.

“I want them to tell us that they have a plan right off the top,” Baker said. “I’m hoping. We never give up hope.”