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Illinois announces additional steps to address high number unemployment claims

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WREX) — The Illinois Department of Employment (IDES) announced they're taking additional steps to address high volume of unemployment claims amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

Here are the following steps IDES has taken to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center:

  • The website has been moved to new hardware infrastructure to handle the increased demand
  •  Web, storage, and processing capacity has been increased to meet needs of increased traffic
  •  Methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims
  •  Call center capacity has been increased
  •  Daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure
  •  Call center staff has been supplemented by 40% to cut down on wait times
  •  Both the website and the call center will continue to be monitored for improvements in functions and abilities

IDES is also now asking people to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing an unemployment benefit claim online and over the phone.

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.

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.

IDES says they've received more than 130,000 unemployment benefit claims in the first three weeks in March, an increase of close to 400% of last year. The department received close to 115,000 claims for the week of March 21 alone.

Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefit at this time are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University. He also been a producer and Assignment Editor at the station.

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