INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has clarified what is required to obtain an unemployment overpayment waiver.
The department will offer waivers for errors made by workforce development and, if reimbursement is a difficulty, the department may offer a waiver.
Meet James Scheer. He was working as a bartender when COVID-19 restrictions forced him out of the job. He hopes the US Department of Labor’s new unemployment overpayment waiver guidelines will blame Indiana and other states for the mistakes and help him get rid of nearly $12,000.
Scheer says he tried to include the salary he earned on the weekly voucher provided through the Workforce Development website, but the system never accepted the entry.
“There was no way for me to put this on my weekly form. It’s because they didn’t know that they say I defrauded them, but their system was not designed for the pandemic. It wasn’t designed to let me talk to them about a day’s work,” Scheer said.
But then, in September 2020, he was involved in an accident that resulted in severe brain damage and nearly a year of rehabilitation.
While he was recovering, Workforce Development sent him notices claiming he had defrauded the state unemployment system and they wanted nearly $12,000 refunded.
An administrative law judge ruled for the department.
Scheer says the state has not accepted blame and could charge him with a crime.
“They can charge me with a crime, that’s what he says if I don’t pay him,” Scheer said.
He argues that the Workforce Development IT system failed him and that he did not defraud the state. If the overpayments are the fault of the state, it could qualify for a waiver.
“Anyone who knows that, even them, would be just amazing I think. That’s the whole reason I appealed, it’s just so they know I didn’t do it on purpose. Their system was not designed for the pandemic and now it’s my fault,” Scheer said.
State governments and the federal government this year changed their guidelines for removing what they call unemployment overpayments, including new rules this week.
These new rules could mean Scheer wouldn’t have to pay the money back if the overpayments weren’t his fault.
I-Team 8 asked Workforce Development for an interview to talk about the expanded waiver policy issued by the state, and no one accepted the invitation.