INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some unemployment claimants in Indiana received more money than they were entitled to, officials confirmed.
“Overpayments” were issued to a “small percentage” of Hoosiers who filed claims for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Josh Richardson, chief of staff at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
The agency did not release data revealing how many claimants received overpayments, how much money the state overpaid and what portion of the funds had been recouped.
Officials indicated up to 10% of Hoosiers who filed CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims the first day the program was available in Indiana received overpayments.
Thousands likely cashed outsize unemployment checks during the pandemic while others waited weeks for delayed payments.
Overpay did not contribute to delays, Richardson said.
“Unfortunately, overpayments are common in the unemployment insurance system at a time like now, when we’re issuing over 300,000 payments a week,” he told News 8.
Eligibility changes and claims processing errors contributed to the miscalculations, agency staffers said.
Several hair salon employees across Indiana said they received more unemployment benefits than they were expecting, spent the money before getting a “Notice of Overpayment” and worried about facing fines for being unable to immediately return the extra funds.
Overpayments issued to Hoosiers with accurately filed claims are deemed “non-fraud” payments and carry no penalties.
In most non-fraud cases, claimants do not have to take steps to return the money on their own; the difference will be deducted from future benefits.
Somebody who receives a $300 weekly payment when they were only eligible for $200 can keep the full amount, but should expect to receive a $100 payment the following week, Richardson explained.
“The claimant still gets all the dollars that they were entitled to,” he said. “To the individuals who are waiting, we’ve dramatically increased staff at the department. We’re setting records each week for the number of issues we’re resolving.”