Having difficulty filing for unemployment in Illinois? Try these tips during the coronavirus crisis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many Illinois residents who are out of work have tried to file for unemployment, but some are experiencing problems online.

Several laid off workers trying to file unemployment claims said they're encountering glitches with the online portal for the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

"We can't get online and take care of our business," said Danielle Taylor. "I have kids at home."

"There are three numbers. One is always busy. One rings once and goes blank and the third is an automated system," said Jenny, a laid off worker who asked to be identified by her first name.

Gov. JB Pritzker said they are working to fix the issues.

State officials recommend residents avoid filing during peak hours. They suggest trying to submit claims before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

"I think they need to move quicker, find solutions," said Jenny.

Attorney Jeffrey Jacobson, a former administrative law judge for the employment security agency, is advising people who are having difficulty to write a letter to the state.

"At least we can argue that you started the application," Jacobson said.

He's also telling workers who have seen their hours cut due to the pandemic to file for unemployment benefits.

"Anyone out there has got a substantial reduction in hours and wages, file," Jacobson said. "The state will then calculate what their benefit amount is."

Illinois Department of Employment Security asked residents on Thursday to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing for unemployment online or over the phone.

For online filing, those with last names beginning with letters A-M are asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays. Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z are asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who couldn't file on their allotted days.

For filing by phone, those with last names beginning with letters A-M are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Fridays will be available for anyone.
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