Both federal and state leaders say there is help available but people are finding it nearly impossible to access those benefits.
James Bertucci was laid off from his bartending job on March 31. He logged on the state’s website to file for unemployment benefits as soon he found out he was losing his job.
“Every time, I would set up a password and get all my info in, it would just go to an error page,” he said. “I tried that every hour on the first day.”
He tried 10 or 12 times the next day with no luck. He then started calling the states phone numbers
“You call that number and it just rings once and then it hangs up on you,” he said. “If you do get through, it says to go to the website.”
Bertucci’s story is not an isolated one. People have reached out to WGN News to share similar experiences.
Jeanette Piazza worked as a preschool teacher in a Chicago suburb until the pandemic. She was kicked off the system online and she didn’t have any luck on the phone either.
“It just feels very helpless everywhere you turn around there is no place to go,” she said. “I was just told that there was just too high of call volume and there is nothing that anyone can do to help me.”
The state said it is working under extreme conditions and this system was working fine until last week when they saw 170,000 people file for benefits.
“I just want help,” Bertucci said. “No one is giving any to the working man.”
“There is everyday people like myself that need that little bit of extra help,” Piazza said. “Get the bugs worked out so we can get the help we need for our families.”
Both Bertucci and Piazza said they understand these are unprecedented times but the same federal and state leaders who say help is available need to deliver.
According to the website, there is a new filing and call schedule to handle the volume.
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
- Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule:
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.
Note: The days in which you can file a claim may be different from the days in which you are asked to certify.
- Unemployment website: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/
- Hotline: 800-244-5631