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Surrounding states waiving unemployment repayments, but not Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — News 8 emails have been flooded with complaints about unemployment, and desperate pleas for help.

Since Friday afternoon, close to 600 people have contacted News 8, saying the state has ordered them to repay every dime they received in unemployment even though they were eligible for the benefits. News 8 has discovered what other states are doing, and it will likely leave those families outraged. 

States surrounding Indiana have approved waivers that would skip those forced repayments. In Kentucky, for example, Gov. Andy Beshear’s office says 14,000 people received overpayments last year. A statement sent to News 8 says new federal law allowed states to waive nonfraudulent unemployment insurance overpayments during the pandemic late last year, but Kentucky was among a handful of states that required legislative action to provide relief.  

 The governor and lawmakers have approved a system to offer a waiver for Kentucky families, and they’re taking applications now.   

Ohio opened applications today for its new repayment waiver program. People with non-fraudulent overpayments can request a waiver, that if approved would absolve the claimant from repaying those funds to the state.  

“We are in the final stages of testing a web-based application that will allow legitimate claimants with overpayments due to no fault of their own to request a waiver. In the coming days, we will be notifying customers about how to apply for a waiver in both the traditional unemployment program and the pandemic unemployment assistance program. Later this summer, we expect to complete the system programming that will allow our agents to start processing those waiver applications,” interim Director of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Matt Damschroder said. 

Michigan already has a waiver on the books. In Illinois, the governor signed a law last month to grant waivers for overpayment to claimants at no fault of their own.   

So why not Indiana? 

The Department of workforce development did send us a statement that says Indiana does offer a type of waiver: “In certain circumstances, a claimant may be eligible to have his/her overpayment waived.”

However, it does not specifically address overpayment waivers for pandemic unemployment benefits.

News 8 has reached out the leadership in both the House and the Senate as well as the governor’s office and have not heard back.  

News 8 wants direct answers to questions about the confusion, the documents on proof of employment, and about the appeals process, and will keep asking these questions until Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne or Gov. Eric Holcomb provide real answers. 

See some of our previous reporting: