I-Team 8

Indiana garnishing wages of Johnson County man who won unemployment appeal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Department of Workforce Development has ordered thousands of Hoosiers to repay overpayment of unemployment benefits.

The process to appeal is complicated and time-consuming. I-Team 8 found a Johnson County man won his appeal, but the state continued to impose a garnishment of his wages.  

Bartley Baker was shocked when he received a letter in November of last year demanding he repay $8,300 of unemployment benefits. He was more than a little surprised the state would ask for money he legitimately received. Baker immediately stopped filling for unemployment benefits, which forced him to move back into his parents’ home. He filed an appeal and in February, he won. 

“The judge asked a few questions and I answered them and he ruled in our favor,” Baker said.

However, without waiting for a decision in his appeal, the Department had already turned his case over the attorney general.

“The workforce held my Indiana state tax refund and applied it toward the debt,” Baker said. 

It was a debt a Department administrative law judge said Baker didn’t owe. The ruling has not stopped at least two collection letters a month from the Department demanding repayment.  

“I sent some emails to them explaining,” Baker said. “Well, I sent a copy of the ruling to workforce and sent several emails and called them and they still have not updated my status.”

Baker has kept meticulous notes, along with every letter from the Department. The latest collections letter from the Department arrived two weeks ago. 

The garnishment from the state extends beyond unemployment benefits. Any income he earns is subject to collection by the state. 

I-Team 8 has sent Baker’s information to the Department. Late Monday afternoon, a Department representative said Baker needed to reverify his identity through the ID.me website. Baker is hoping to get this garnishment resolved and get back to work. 

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