CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 is Working for Chicago, and has reported extensively on the troubles with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, but our neighbors to the east don’t always have a picnic either, when it comes to collecting unemployment benefits.
Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a Northwest Indiana viewer who only got his money after CBS 2 got involved.
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Lisa and Michael Wojcik have tag-teamed in the unemployment game turned waiting game for more than a year.
Lisa: “What does it take for a person to just get something done?
Michael: “Some relief.”
Lisa: “No money for an entire year.”
Michael applied for benefits back in March of 2020, but even as a dynamic duo, he said, “we’ve gotten absolutely nowhere.”
Thirty-six years as an automobile auctioneer taught Michael that to get what you want, you’ve got to act fast. So he quickly filed for unemployment benefits, and “they denied us.”
The state claimed it didn’t have proof of his 2018 or 2019 income. So he appealed and re-submitted the requested documents.
“We have given them all the proof that they need,” Lisa said.
But the claim stayed in limbo. What’s worse, when they reached out for help, they got instructions that didn’t make any sense.
“This is, like, the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Michael said.
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The most bizarre suggestion? From – going once, going twice, sold to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
Michael said he was told “What I needed to do was to file the unemployment claim in Peachtree, Georgia,” where his company is headquartered. But Michael both lives and works in Indiana.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
After CBS 2 reached out to the Indiana unemployment agency, it finally got its act together.
“They want him to file a brand new unemployment insurance claim,” Lisa said.
The state realized Michael qualified for a certain kind of benefits, since he’s considered a gig worker, and not traditional unemployment assistance.
“Are we supposed to lose everything we’ve ever worked for, because someone can’t fix the problem that you’re having?” Lisa said.
A question they’ve been sitting on for a year and counting.
Michael said he has finally begun receiving unemployment benefits and back pay. We’ll stay on his case until everything is current and paid.
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.
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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.