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Unemployment benefits in Indiana: The claims, concerns, and challenges

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 13:52:41-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Many are still waiting for help and hope for answers with their unemployment claims in Indiana.

Fred Payne, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, spoke exclusively to WRTV about the claims, concerns, and challenges.

Since March, 785,000 people have received more than $6.5 billion in unemployment benefits.

"When you say the word unprecedented, put an exclamation point on unprecedented," Payne said.

There have been delays and technical glitches in the system.

The department has added extra staff to handle calls and is hiring more administrative law judges. They will focus on appeals cases in which some people are challenging a denial of benefits.

"By adding to our capacity to handle and schedule appeals and address appeals that will allow us to handle more claims," Payne said.

Multiple federal programs approved by Congress all required time to create new ways for the state to track the money and ensure the right person was getting paid.

"Anytime you have high number of dollars and individuals, you need a sophisticated system underneath that to make sure individuals are getting the right payment at the right time," Payne said.

Once potential fraud is detected, a review of the case can cause a payment to slow down.

Fraud can range anywhere from someone lying that they're eligible for benefits, to someone using a stolen identity to fleece the system.

It's something the department says is happened with greater frequency.

"That's the one thing that will slow down the process," Payne said. "The more fraud you have, so we're chasing sometimes payments of claims to individuals that don't really exist, it's fraudulent. So we have to divert resources to that. We want to make sure, we're paying every eligible Hoosier."

You can watch WRTV's interview with Payne in the player above.