CHICAGO (CBS) — As millions of Americans lose their jobs, a growing number of people are unable to get unemployment benefits, because of problems with their previous employers.
CBS 2 is Working for Chicago, helping answer your unemployment questions. and Mike Puccinelli found the wait for money could last months.
Summing up the stress on a scale of one to 10, Tonya Nichols said it’s a 20.
“Between having to stay in the house and fight for unemployment, it is not a good situation,” Nichols said.
She is talking about is what this 51-year-old mom likens to unemployment limbo. Nichols applied for unemployment shortly after she was laid off in March due to COVID-19.
Then in mid-April when she was expecting to get her first check, she instead got an unsettling message.
“I was told there was an adjudication issue with my unemployment,” Nichols said.
That means her unemployment is being contested by a previous employer. Labor attorney Jeremy Glenn said she’s not alone.
“We know statistically that the number of applications filed in Illinois is up something like ten times over the last six weeks,” Glenn said. “So it stands to reason that the number of contested applications is statistically higher.”
Nichols said she applied only one other time in her 30-year work history. So she was stunned to find out her claim was being contested.
“I was told that because I was terminated from a previous job that my unemployment was being held up and I needed to have a hearing,” Nichols said.
And that’s easier said than done as she soon found out.
“I asked well when am I going to have a hearing. I was told I don’t know,” Nichols said.
Snell said the unemployment adjudication process typically takes two to four months. He said during the COVID-19 crisis he expects that time to double to four to eight months.”
“Well, that’s not acceptable,” Nichols said. Because she said her savings is rapidly being used up.
“What am I supposed to do? I have rent to pay. I have a car note. I have other bills,” she said.
Glenn counsels patience and persistent contact with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
“Continue to ask IDES to expedite your matters,” Glenn said. “Continue to check in with the call center and the online portal.”
He added that it’s important that claims are determined to be proper. Iif the state determines that benefits were improperly granted, then the recipient could be forced to pay the money back.
CBS 2 is working hard to help you get back to work. For a list of companies hiring right now. Go to the CBS 2 Working For Chicago site.