CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Department of Employment Security has had $22 million in taxpayer money poured in, but it’s not working. An IDES spokesperson says they have processed about 75,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims in a week, but they do not know how many have been approved or paid out.
One gig worker says she has called not just a few times, but hundreds of times and still can’t get help.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina is Working for Chicago, taking questions to Gov. JB Pritzker.
“I called 602 times yesterday and never spoke to anyone,” said Sarah Smart.
The mom of two was looking for answers about what is holding up her benefits. She’s a hairstylist with a salon in Schaumburg and had to shut down in March. Like thousands of others, she has gone without income for nine weeks now.
“We’ve waited all this time for a system that’s supposed to be improved,” she said.
Her criticism of the PUA system is not unique. CBS 2 has heard from others who say it is not working, and when they are able to get through on the phones, the people answering are not sure how to help.
“When we call in people have no idea what we are talking about,” she said. “They an’t even log into our accounts.”
CBS 2 turned to IDES and Pritzker. He did not address issues or training but said people having problems just need to keep trying.
“It’s not something that is excused in any way,” he said. “When we have this rush of applications coming in every day there are only so many people who can answer the calls.”
Smart has kept trying. She tried 602 times Wednesday.
“I’ve never needed to rely on anyone else, and the minute I do it’s failing me. And that’s the hardest part,” she said.