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Workforce Development to handle overpayment cases on ‘fact-by-fact’ basis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — News 8 has been flooded with nearly 900 emails related to unemployment issues with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Many of the emails outline concerns from people fearing they have to repay the state thousands of dollars after being told they were overpaid during the pandemic.

I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor asked Indiana Department of Workforce Development Chief Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Solutions Officer Regina Ashley and Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne for additional clarification on Friday.

“We’ve heard from over 800 people claiming that they have to repay in full their unemployment benefits and these are not people who are saying it was fraud, they’re saying they got their documents in on time, they met their deadlines, and yet they’re still having to pay sums of tens of thousands of dollars,” explained Minor. “Are you going to waive those who are eligible for the unemployment benefits, got everything in on their deadlines, got all their documents, but are still saying they have to pay?”

Payne said if individuals received overpayment and they provided DWD with a waiver or they repealed it, then the department has stopped any type of attempts to seek repayment from those individuals.

“Any individuals who have legitimately provided us with documentation and they filled out the waiver, the answer to the question is generally no,” said Payne.

He said each of those cases would be handled on a fact-by-fact basis.

“We’re always refining our processes and we do take suggestions from the public on all of that,” said Payne. “But again, if an individual has made a simple mistake and we can verify that it’s not fraud, then there’s a process in place for that and we’ll continue to follow that process. When we’re going after overpayments we only want to go after overpayments that people did not legitimately receive.”

Minor asked Ashley what should people do if they feel they were eligible but are still having to repay.

“If there’s anybody who’s having issues they should definitely reach out,” said Ashley.

Minor responded, “They say, ‘I call, I call. I show up to the office [and] I can’t get a hold of anyone.’” 

“Every person who says that and we look into those allegations, because our wait times are less than 2 minutes,” explained Ashley.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is restarting three federal unemployment benefit programs.

Those programs include the $300 weekly add-on through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, the benefits to independent contractors, gig workers and those otherwise not eligible for unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, and the extension of benefits beyond the normal 26 weeks through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

The federal programs will be retroactive to the week ending June 26, said DWD Chief Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Solutions Officer Regina Ashley during a Friday morning press conference.

Full DWD press conference