Unemployment concerns: no check, no way to reach office

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PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Thousands of people are out of work in Illinois because of COVID-19. Many of them are relying on unemployment checks, but for some those aren’t coming. The unemployment office is closed to in-person visits for safety reasons. In the meantime, some people are still waiting on their money.

For Jerry Stanley and many others like him, it’s only a matter of time before he runs out of money. He was furloughed from his job in late May and has only gotten one paycheck since. He says every time he calls the Illinois Department of Employment Security, he can’t get anywhere.

“I really feel for the folks where it’s been two months, three months, and they’ve gotten no checks at all,” said Stanley.

Stanley says he tries to go on IDES’ website to indicate that he’s still not getting paid, but it doesn’t work.

“When you try to certify, you simply get a message that you cannot certify at this time, but it doesn’t matter when. I tried all last night. I tried all this week,” he explained. “You take these people that are paying $800, $900, $1,000 a month for rent, what in the world are they doing?”

On top of just everyday expenses, Stanley also has cancer. He says his medical bills, without insurance, would be $60,000 a month.

“I’m still paying for my insurance; I still have to pay that every two weeks even though I’m not there just to keep it. So pretty soon, if I’m not getting my unemployment checks, I may not be able to pay that out. Then I’m really in trouble. It’s basically… a death sentence to me.”

More than anything, he just wants to know when this will be over.

“Just let us know. Tell us. Give us some type of indication.”

We reached out to IDES and did finally hear back through email. They told me they are trying to increase their phone lines. They also have a virtual call center with more than 500 people to answer calls. Despite that, when we called their main number, we couldn’t get through to anyone.

IDES is asking people to follow an alphabetized schedule. It goes as follows:

Online Filing Schedule:
▪ 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 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
▪ Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays
between 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
▪ Fridays (7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

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