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UPDATE: The State Department of Workforce Development has responded saying “DWD did not garnish wages” for Bartly Baker.

“We are not garnishing wages on PUA claims at all, and we do not garnish wages on regular UI unless there is fraud or a failure to report wages (per statute),” said DWD spokesman Scott Olson.

Olson said Baker had an “identity verification issue” on his account since Feb 2021 that he just resolved on Monday. Olson added that until he resolved the identity verification issues, no payments would have issued and nothing would have been worked on with his claims.

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — The state is still forcing people to repay overpaid unemployment money, even if they legitimately received the money they were given.

In one man’s case, the state is garnishing his wages in order to recoup the over $8,300 the Department of Workforce Development says he owes. For Bartley Baker, who lives in Johnson County, the ordeal has forced him to move back in with his parents.

When he got a notice from the state in November saying he needed to pay back the money he was given, he immediately stopped filing for unemployment and filed an appeal with hopes he would not have to repay anything.

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

But, imagine Baker’s surprise when not long after he learned that the state had already turned his case over from the DWD to the attorney general’s office and the state Treasury Department which began garnishing his wages and applying them towards his debt, all after his appeal had been granted by a judge.

“The workforce held my Indiana state tax refund and applied it toward the debt,” Baker said. “I sent a copy of the ruling to workforce and sent several emails and called them and they still have not updated my status.”

The garnishment means that any income that Baker receives is subject to be redirected towards repaying the overpaid unemployment the state says he owes. When Baker heard back from the DWD they said he needed to re-verify his identity in order to update his status as having been exempt from repaying.

As of Monday, his wages are still being garnished.

Both DWD director Fred Payne and Governor Eric Holcomb have said that in handling the repayments they have to treat on a case-by-case basis in order to protect the state from fraud. The state is said to have overpaid $100 million in unemployment in 2020.