GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Kerri VerSluys said he thought he did everything right when he filed for unemployment benefits and got approved by the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Now he's being told he needs to pay back $21,000 or have his wages garnished.
The Grand Rapids man collected much less than that, and he's upset the state waited so long to change its tune.
“Now the state’s lying. That’s not right, and they’re hurting a lot of people," he said.
VerSluys said he did "nothing wrong.” He filed for unemployment benefits last November after he said he was laid off due to lack of work. According to his documents from the state, he collected just over $4,000 from the UIA. The other $17,000 the state is demanding is from penalties and interest.
He said he's played over and over in his mind what he could have done wrong but said he can't rationalize the UIA's accusations. VerSluys said there's no basis.
“It says right here issues and sections of Michigan Unemployment Security Act involved misconduct. No," VerSluys expressed disapproval of the accusations.
After receiving several letters, including one threatening to garnish his wages from his new job, VerSluys saved a little cash to hire a lawyer. His attorney filed appeals with the state.
“And immediately, I haven’t gotten a letter since," he said.
VerSluys wants a hearing to stop the state.
He said his attorney told him, “'Yea, they're so backed up. Ya know, the judge is so backed up that it’s going to be a couple of months. We just got to take our turn."
So like hundreds of other people fighting a similar battle with the state unemployment insurance agency, VerSluys reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers after seeing several stories on problems with unemployment.
“I was watching, watching you in fact and you hit the nail right on the head. I said, ‘that’s me!’” he recalled.
“Well, I want it dropped. But who wouldn’t? But they’re lying! That’s the biggest thing that annoys me most of all, is that they’re lying. They’re the state, and they get away with it," VerSluys said.
He said he considered filing for bankruptcy but learned he may not be able to get rid of the debt. This clearly isn't over. The FOX 17 Problem Solvers have sent VerSluys' information over to the UIA for review. Meantime, there is a federal lawsuit pending against the state on this issue. The state has yet to respond to it.