CHICAGO (CBS) — Glitches, data leaks, and long waits for help – for months, we’ve uncovered issue after issue with the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was set up specifically for gig workers during the pandemic.
On Thursday night, we uncovered new information about that program – with CBS 2’s Tara Molina learning thousands who are active in that system aren’t getting paid at all.
Molina has been working to learn why.
Through internal documents we got our hands on through a public records request, we know one in three claimants in the PUA system, right now, is not being paid.
“I’m approved. This money should be mine,” Jackie Biederman told us in August. “But I can’t even get through to somebody to find out where it is.”
We’ve heard such stories for months and we have investigated the issues underlying them.
“I couldn’t pay my rent this month or last month,” Chevaughn Silk told us this week.
People applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits end up having issues with the system and are forced to wait on help from IDES.
“We need a lot more transparency in the system,” Bill Mylan told us in June. “You need to tell people what is going on.”
Now, we know exactly how many people are waiting. The number is 163,000. That is how many people are in Illinois’ PUA system, but aren’t getting paid.
The latest internal report we got our hands on, from Friday, Nov. 6, shows 38 percent of existing claimants aren’t being paid.
We know 75,000 have ID issues, 95,000 have certification issues, and some have both.
They’re the highest numbers we’ve seen since the system debuted in May.
Of course, we asked the state what’s going on here. We asked IDES why there are so many people in the system who aren’t being paid right now.
A spokesperson released the following statement Friday:
These numbers underscore the complexity of the unemployment compensation program. Only a portion of that 38% referenced are likely to be paid. Of the population in question, approximately 27% have a pending issue holding back payment like the referenced “ID issues”. Using your figures, that represents about 44,000 claims. The rest fall into two buckets (with some overlap) – 1) Claims where there is no certification—meaning there is no chance of payment without this (the 95,000 referenced) and 2) Claims that have been denied. These two buckets represent a vast majority of the population in question.
(Of course, a claimant can certify which moves them into payment, but requires action on their part).
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CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.
We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.