Grand Rapids man fights $21,000 charge from unemployment, wants hearing

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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.

His goal?

“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.

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8 comments

  • Ado Christian

    Isn’t a Big Brother, socialist, nanny government just great? “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

  • Mac Zeff

    The state is hurting for money. They are going to suck it out of us any way they can untill we put people in lansing that will DO THE JOB and not allow this kind of stuff to happen. I don’t care what party it is..both are bad – and as this proves, corrupt.

  • Demetria Kelly

    I am another victim of wrong doing by the UIA, I was fired from my job and recieved $9,000 and then I recieved a letter after all that time saying I had to pay the money back. I don’t have money for a lawyer. The UIA are now saying I owe over $20,000 they have began garnishing my state taxes. I am a single parent of 5 with 1 kid about to began college later this year. I’m frustrated.

  • lauren

    I am going through a similar situation where the unemployment agency is saying I never filed with Michigan Works which is a lie because I have proof I did and submitted my proof but was still denied and told I owe

  • Catherine

    I’m going through a similar situation.Went to file for an appeal, they sent a form asking for the same information I had already sent them and before I could get that in they sent a letter rejecting the appeal.

  • Jess Englebrecht

    Shame.. my debt to the UIA is now over $50k! I’ve tried contesting and appealing, etc but I found out just today, that my address was automatically changed in their system, to an irrelevant address. So not only did I miss my hearing, I’ve racked up more debt. Luckily I was able to reopen the appeal, but now I have to find a lawyer to help that will work for free until after its settled!