Illinois unemployment: Many say debit card from IDES with benefits hasn't arrived, or can't access funds

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For many people it's hard enough getting through to file for unemployment, but others are experiencing a different problem.

They said the debit card that should have their unemployment money on it either didn't arrive or came with a $0 balance.

Ricky Jackson said he was laid off from his job right before Illinois' stay-at-home-order, so he applied for unemployment benefits through the state and was approved within a few weeks.

The Oak Park man said he was told to be on the lookout for a debit card in the mail.

"They tell you the money is on the debit card, but what debit card? I haven't been issued one," he said.

Jackson said he's been waiting on the debit card for weeks and can barely pay his mortgage.

"I had a savings, but I've been spending on that and it's getting low," he said.

The ABC7 I-Team has heard from several others who said they either didn't receive their debit card or their card doesn't have any money on it.

Judy Coor in Cary, Illinois said she too is still waiting.

"I understand that they are inundated with people but it's like beating your head up against the wall," Coor said.

When asked about these problems, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker pointed to KeyBank, a company the state teamed up with to administer the debit cards.

"They're a partner, to the extent you put pressure on a partners to operate better, faster, more efficiently, that is what IDES is doing with KeyBank," Pritzker said. "I absolutely encourage people to connect with KeyBank when they're having trouble with those cards because they are issued by KeyBank and IDES is attempting to get them to work out all the glitches and make sure people's calls are answered."

But Jackson said he was informed by KeyBank that the state hadn't provided information to release his card.

"It's like it's two different processes," Jackson said.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security told ABC 7 I-Team "In general, debit cards are mailed as soon as a claim is processed. These often arrive with $0 as our claims reps verify a claim."

IDES encourages all claimants to set up direct deposit immediately after filing a claim, because it's the fastest and most secure method to receive benefits.

But Jackson said the state shouldn't give the public a debit card option if they can't guarantee the card will arrive.

"I want the state to get their act together for me and a lot of other people who are going through the same situation I'm going through," he said.

A KeyBank spokesperson told the ABC 7 I-Team in part, "Over the past two months, unemployment claims across the country have risen exponentially. During this unprecedented time, we have worked closely with state departments to issue more than 1.5 million unemployment cards - 20X the normal rate of issuance. A large majority of cards have been delivered and funded without issue.

We understand that these are uncertain times, emotions are running high, and claimants need access to their funds quickly and with clarity around the process. We are working hard to address concerns as they occur. We encourage claimants who are experiencing an issue with their card to call 866-295-2955. We have also made recent enhancements to the Key2Benefits website to assist those who would like to track their card or have a frequently asked question.

We want to thank claimants for their patience during this extraordinarily challenging time
."

If you're still waiting on your unemployment funds, click here for assistance from KeyBank: https://www.key.com/business/key2benefits/index.jsp

The Illinois Department of Employment Security issued a full statement saying,"In general, we cannot comment on individual cases, but we forwarded this person's information on to our unemployment staffers for resolution. Unique cases like this are best handled by a claims rep.

In general, debit cards are mailed as soon as a claim is processed. These often arrive with $0 as our claims reps verify a claim, and claimants certify their unemployment status, a process that can take a few days.

In order to reduce issues that may arise from the use of debit cards, IDES encourages all claimants to set up direct deposit immediately after filing a claim; direct deposit is the fastest and most secure method a claimant can use to receive their benefits. (Claimants who do request direct deposit will still receive a debit card but any benefits will be deposited into their bank account).

Claimants experiencing problems with their card will need to either connect with an IDES claims rep or a KeyBank agent, depending on the issue."
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