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Illinois unemployment offices seek improvements on claim process

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has taken steps to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center.

The website found at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx has been moved to new hardware infrastructure to handle the increased demand. Methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims. Additionally, call center capacity has been increased and daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure, among other measures.

In addition to these measures, IDES is asking individuals to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing an unemployment benefit claim online and over the phone. This process mirrors other states, such as Colorado and New York, who are experiencing increased web traffic and high call volumes with their unemployment benefit systems.

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 7:30a.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 affect 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 is working through an unparalleled number of unemployment benefit claims and questions, both online and through the call center. Over the first three weeks of March, IDES has received more than 130,000 unemployment benefit claims, an increase of close to 400% compared to the corresponding weeks the prior year.

The department received close to 115,000 claims for the week of March 21 alone, an increase of nearly 1,400% compared to the corresponding week the prior year. Additionally, the call center at 312-338-4337 continues to field hundreds of calls per minute, per day.

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