unemployment service goes to 16-hour days to help Illinoisans
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[February 19, 2009]
CHICAGO -- For the second time
in less than two months, officials have expanded the hours during
which Illinois claimants can use the telephone to certify for
unemployment insurance benefits. The expansion is part of a
multifaceted approach to deliver benefit payments and services more
quickly and efficiently as a record number of job losses spread
across the country.
Hours for the telephone-based system, TeleServe, have expanded to 5
a.m.-9 p.m. to better accommodate the rising number of jobless who
qualify for unemployment insurance. In addition to increasing
TeleServe hours, the Illinois Department of Employment Security is
adding telephone capacity and expanding the computer hardware and
software to increase the number of telephone calls that can be
processed. Potential claimants are encouraged to file their claims
on the Internet and to receive those funds through direct deposit.
All are part of a coordinated effort to ensure claimants receive
their pay in a timely manner and that wait times at employment
security offices are kept to a minimum.
"We recognize the economic crisis is causing frustration and
worry for thousands of Illinois residents," IDES Director Maureen
O'Donnell said. "Expanding TeleServe hours, increasing the actual
number of phone calls we can receive, and encouraging Internet use
and direct deposit are designed to improve service under very
challenging conditions for our customers."
National unemployment data for January reported the unemployment
rate at 7.6 percent, the highest level in 16 years. The federal
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 598,000 jobs were lost in
January, the largest for any single month since 1974. Illinois
reported a 7.6 percent unemployment rate for the month of December,
the most recent figures available. The national unemployment rate
for December was 7.2 percent.
Higher unemployment rates mean higher call volumes to TeleServe,
the automated telephone system used by those collecting unemployment
insurance to certify their employment status so they can receive a
benefit payment by either direct deposit or debit card. In December,
TeleServe hours were expanded to 6 a.m-8:30 p.m. from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
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"We are working to deliver services as efficiently as possible,"
O'Donnell said. "To that end, we encourage people to use the
Internet for first-time unemployment claims and to access
information regarding career counseling and jobless benefits."
Unemployment insurance is a state-operated insurance program
designed to partially compensate workers for lost wages. If an
unemployed individual meets specific eligibility requirements, the
insurance program ensures that they will have some income while
looking for a job, up to a maximum of 26 weeks in a one-year period.
Two federal extensions of unemployment insurance also are available.
Unemployment insurance benefits are funded by tax dollars collected
from Illinois employers.
Although IDES officials strongly encourage using
obtain general information and file an unemployment claim, there are
some claims that must be completed at a local office, such as wages
earned from more than one state (initial combined wage), wages
earned from outside Illinois (interstate benefit claims), and wages
that involve the military or federal government. These forms are
more complex and require an office visit. Office
are available at
[Text from file
Department of Employment Security
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]