PALATINE, Ill. — The State of Illinois announced a 20-week extension of unemployment benefits because of the continued high unemployment rate. However not everyone has been able to access the funds.
A Palatine man who was recently diagnosed with diabetes says he’s having a hard time paying for his medication, and bills because he can’t get through to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Jeff Perricone working for a printing company in Elgin called Hagg Press. In March when the stay-at-home orders were put in place, their workflow started slowing down. The company slashed his hours in half. His employer was able to obtain federal stimulus money to compensate workers, until it ran out in late June.
Since June, Perricone has been calling the IDES every day to file for unemployment.
“The say ‘We have a call back option,’ and I have left my number the first time and now it says you’re already on a call back you can’t leave your number again,” Perricone said.
He said his attempts online have also been unsuccessful, and he’s not alone.
Shari Gary said she’s tried calling for five days and tried 400 different times.
WGN Investigates found between March 1 and July 1, there were about 78.5 million calls to IDES. Of those, 393,000thousand were answered. That doesn’t even reach 1% of the calls coming in.
Those in need of help are feeling the pain.
Gov. JB Pritzker hired Deloitte Consulting, a private company, in charge of staffing a virtual call center to get claims moving. Months later it seems the lag time and problems still exist.
“What do we do when we rely on the government and we are just bounced around and we are ignored?” Alexis Byrd, who is also seeking unemployment benefits, said.
“It just gets frustrating that you’re trying to get some assistance through unemployment it seems like as many times I’ve called they haven’t taken their time to call me,” Perricone said.
IDES said people should try to file online.
They say since implementing that new call back feature on July 9, they have returned 185,000 calls.