The State of Illinois is taking steps to address the record volume volume of unemployment benefit claims as a result of COVID-19.
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) made the announcement yesterday.
Spokesperson Rebecca Cisco says via email that to date, the department has taken several steps to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center, and methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims.
Call center capacity has been increased and daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure.
IDES is now asking individuals 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 Filings will follow the same format of those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm. Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) 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 is currently working through an unparalleled number of unemployment benefit claims and questions, both online and through the call center.
Cisco says that over the first three weeks of March, IDES has received over 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.
Cisco says that the call center continues to field hundreds of calls per minute each day, and that IDES is doing everything possible to support customers and meet the demand for unemployment benefit inquiries and claims.
Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefit at this time are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov