IDES encourages claimants to go online

August 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Yair Salas is hopeful a job offer is around the corner, but until then he needs the unemployment benefit extension that was recently authorized by Congress.

"I was depending on that back pay to pay some past due bills," said Salas.

Salas said over the weekend he tried to get his extension processed over the phone without luck. On Monday he went in person to the Illinois Department of Employment Security office in Pilsen and found out he qualifies for the extension.

"I had to come all the way here it took me two and half hours just to find out a two minute answer," said Salas.

People also showed up at the IDES office in Humboldt Park after they were unable to call over the weekend.

"You get recording after recording after recording and then they tell you it's down again. It's really frustrating," said Reginald Berry, IDES claimant.

The IDES spokesman said the phone lines are now operating after a problem that may or may not have been related to flooding.

"Telephone service was interrupted on Friday. We've been able to restore that service so our phone lines for the certification process are back up," said Greg Rivara, IL Dept. of Employment Security.

Some claimants say the weekend outage wasn't the only problem with the phone lines and there are problems with the phone system even when it is operating.

"You can't take care of the business over the phone as the system is set up for. You have to come in person. It's frustrating. It's time consuming. I could be out looking for a job," said Trevathan Reaves, IDES claimant.

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"The busy signals are unfortunate they are a definite reflection of this national recession," said Rivara. "We continue to encourage people to certify online, especially in times of high unemployment because they can get through system more quickly and we can avoid busy signals on the teleserve line."

Berry has a suggestion.

"They need to just eliminate that and put some human people... I'll answer the phone. Pay me I'll answer the phone. That's a job. I need one real bad," said Berry, who, after 2 1/ 2 hours has qualified for unemployment extension. He'll get a check in the next two to three days.

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