CHICAGO (CBS) — Two weeks ago a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Employment Security said they added 100 call takers to their virtual call center, but people continue to reach out to CBS 2 about long waits for help.
“I’m approved. This money should be mine. But I can’t even get through to somebody to figure out where it is,” said Jackie Biederman.
She has waited months for her unemployment benefits and weeks for a callback from IDES to find out why.
“It took them three and a half weeks to call me back,” she said.
That was the first time, and it didn’t go so well.
“Then when they called me back I got someone who said, ‘Oh yeah, we can fix that, kinda went silent for a little bit, and then said, ‘It’s not letting me do that. Let me transfer you,'” Biederman said.
She said she was transferred back to the callback system where she left her number again and waited again for what she believes should be a simple answer and a simple fix.
“The callback thing, to me, feels like all they’re doing is hiding,” she said.
Forced to dip into her 401k, she says she can’t afford to wait another three weeks for a callback from a system she feels is failing.
And she’s not the only one.
“I’ve been waiting well over three weeks for the callback,” said George Schnarr.
Schnarr and dozens of others who’ve reached out to CBS 2 are dealing with the same thing.
“Their staff is limited and their callback time cannot handle the unemployment claim load,” he said.
But is that really the case? CBS 2 asked the state for the numbers to see how efficient they really are and if the 100 call takers we’re told they added weeks ago have made any difference.
CBS 2 found while people are still stuck waiting, they have gotten better. With 480 workers making callbacks the first three weeks of the program, starting July 9th they made about 8,400 calls a day. On July 30th, three weeks into callback program, they had made 135,000 calls.
Since 100 workers were added these past two weeks, they upped that number to about 12,400 calls a day. They’ve made 259,000 calls since the program debuted July 9th.
But with people like Jackie still waiting even after getting a call, that’s what she says really matters.
“People need this money to eat,” she said.
CBS 2 will continue to bring these issues to the state as we continue to hear from people who need help but aren’t getting it.