CHICAGO (CBS) — After doing hundreds of stories on people’s agonizing waits for benefits through the Illinois Department of Employment Security, we found two success stories Thursday.
CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra on Thursday night shared what they did – which could help you.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: More Storms Possible This Weekend
We have done hundreds of stories about the Illinois Department of Employment Security – but this was one we can’t forget.
Last July, Angel Brewer-Bass used a bullhorn to make her frustration at a Pilsen state office crystal clear.
“This is not a joke! This is people’s lives!” Brewer-Bass yelled toward the building through the bullhorn. “Are you kidding me?”
It had been four months with no unemployment checks. After Brewer-Bass interviewed with us, she got half her money owed after she was laid off at the start of the pandemic.
“You know, that really still feels like it was yesterday,” she said on Thursday.
Ten months later, she finally has her benefits. But indeed, the struggle stayed with her.
“They didn’t really have a great explanation for why it happened that way, but I did eventually get the money,” Brewer-Bass said.
Debbie Zeilner knows that stress. She was laid off one year ago. She wrote to us last month, caught in IDES phone lines – which felt more like the Bermuda Triangle.
“I would call the IDES number again, and then I would get back on the list then they’d call me twice – then they’d disconnect me twice and I’d call again,” Zeilner said.
This went on for weeks, until she finally connected to a human. Her benefits showed up a few days later.READ MORE: Boards Used To Protect Businesses During Last Summer's Unrest Now Painted And On Display At DuSable Museum Of African American History
“I was just happy he was helping me, to be honest,” Zeilner said.
We know that so many of you are in that same waiting game that the aforementioned ladies experienced. We wanted to know from them – now that they’re on the other side, are there any tips or tricks they would suggest to get your claim resolved faster?
“I would just be as nice and as kind as I could, and say I appreciate your help and things like that,” Zeilner said.
Zeilner considers herself lucky. For Brewer-Bass, it took more.
“Waiting out the system does not work in my opinion,” Brewer-Bass said. “I think that persistence is going to be key.”
You may not want to pick up a bullhorn. But she doubts she would have her money if she had not done so.
“You need to protest. You need to make yourself heard,” Brewer-Bass said. “You can’t just sit and call and wait for somebody to pick up the phone.
Both women said they are still looking for jobs. If you are too, click here.
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.MORE NEWS: Chicago Police Officer Owns Englewood Home That Was Location Of Deadly Mass Shooting
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.