I-Team 8

Report: Indiana waives $35,157 in pandemic unemployment overpayments

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to new report by the U.S. Department of Labor, Indiana has waived $34,745 in unemployment overpayments between July 1 and Sept. 30.

While this amount is an increase since the beginning of the year, in total it’s only $35,157 for the entire year so far.

Indiana state Sen. David Niezgodski, a Democrat from South Bend, said “We have heard that the system is outdated, that it’s antiquated, and that’s part of the reason for the slowdown. But I have to be honest, I’ve heard that the system is antiquated for a very, very long period of time, so what’s it going to take?”

Niezgodksi says more money needs to be put in the budget to update what he calls the slow system of the Department of Workforce Development, especially as thousands of Hoosiers were being asked to repay their unemployment in the tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the report, in the first few months of the year, Indiana did not waive any unemployment overpayments. Three months later, just $412 was waived. While Indiana made more progress by the end of September, Indiana state House Rep. Gregory Porter, a Democrat from Indianapolis, says the state is still behind compared to surrounding states.

“It seems like we need to be more compassionate when it comes to Hoosiers,” Porter said. “Other states are. Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and other states are more passionate toward their residents.”

I-Team 8 found Ohio has waived over $10 million in unemployment overpayments.

I-Team 8 reached out to Workforce Development to see why the state has waived more of the overpayments, but had not heard back by Wednesday afternoon.

Niezgodski says if the problems continue, it’s something he’ll bring forward during the next legislative session. “If we haven’t been given all the ingredients to put together, to make a recipe where we can become much more efficient, just because of all the problems they had faced, then it’s really upon us. That would be, in my eyes, that’d be failure.” 

I-Team 8 reached out to a spokesperson for Indiana Senate Republicans, who said, “We aren’t aware of anyone working on this issue as of now. That could always change as we get closer to session and more bills are filed, though.”

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