ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Thousands of people in the state are without work because of the pandemic. If that’s not hard enough, many of them can’t seem to get any jobless benefits. We asked you yesterday about this “glitch” in the unemployment system. Dozens of you have messaged us just since last night, saying you’re all running into the same problem.
These people are desperate. Many of them close to their limit. Some are surviving on savings, but it can’t last forever. All they want is someone to explain what’s going on, but they can’t get through to anyone.
“There’s no date that somebody’s gonna call me. There’s no date to get a date. There’s nothing. I’m just stuck waiting,” said Jenny Bach.
The waiting never seems to end for many like Bach. She has been without work just since June, and says her family is still struggling to make ends meet. Thousands of others are also demanding answers and hearing none. Jean Kent, for example, says they’re “running through their savings”; Crystal Owens says she’s called more than 50 times with no response; Bennie Randle says he’s “barely eating and on the verge of losing his apartment.”
“We have to constantly move things around, rob Peter to pay Paul to manage, but there are worse people out there, and it is scary,” explained Bach.
Each issue is a little different, but they all have the same common thread: No money. Some have even gone as far as contacting legislators.
“I encourage people – be that squeaky wheel. Make sure that you are doing what you have to do – or at the minimum, if you’ve got other things that you’re taking care of at home, make sure your legislators are doing that for you because that’s what your tax dollars are supposed to do,” said State Senator Scott Bennett. But once some people are getting that coveted call back, it doesn’t always offer a solution.
“Some of the most frustrating calls I’ve had are from people who did get a call back, but the person on the other line doesn’t know how to address their circumstances,” explained State Senator Chapin Rose.
An IDES spokesperson says they’re still urging people to use their callback system, but many who have are still waiting for a call days later. And in the meantime, the bills keep piling up.
“There is no end in sight. People are hungry,” said Bach.
If you do reach out to your legislator for help and you eventually reach a solution, make sure you call them back to let them know you worked things out.
In the meantime, IDES yesterday announced the implementation of a new system designed to mitigate some of the issues. Four newly created phone numbers have been created to allow claimants to dial in order to be placed in a virtual waiting room to receive a phone call back. It’s aimed at eliminating a lottery-like system that people currently navigate when they call IDES and is supposed to put people in an order in which IDES will call them back. Their full explanation of what people should do can be found here.
If you’ve got a story about IDES’ new system and whether it’s working for you or not, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.