CHICAGO (CBS) — A man lost his home, car, and everything waiting on a call from the Illinois Department of Employment Security – a call that never came.
This was even after the agency’s acting director told CBS 2 they were making improvements so this doesn’t happen to people.
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CBS 2’s took the issue back to the state Monday, as the system is still failing.
It specifically failing people like Jeremiah Loveless – who said he waited weeks and weeks on a call, his benefits hanging in the balance.
Now, he says, he’s lost everything to the waiting game.
“I’ve lost my home. I’ve lost my vehicle. I’m behind thousands of dollars in child support,” Loveless said.
Now staying with a friend out-of-state, Loveless met us virtually Monday to talk about the promised returned call from IDES that never came.
“He said, ‘I promise you – myself personally – will call you back tomorrow at 11 a.m. after it’s all updated, and I’ll get you your back pay, and we will get this rolling again,’” Loveless said.
He said that broken promise is what left him in the position he is in now.
“I waited that entire day – 11 a.m., 12 p.m., on and on through the afternoon,” Loveless said. “I never got a call back and haven’t gotten one since.”
Now he is out of options, out of savings, and still waiting – when he says the whole reason for the call – the continued hold on his benefits – was simple.
“All I wanted to do was update my information in the system,” Loveless said.
He wanted to update his address and banking information. He said the online system alerted him to call IDES to finalize those changes and his claim.
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He put his number in their callback system and waited a month on the call, where he was promised a callback.
He has waited another three weeks since, with his number back in that system – waiting.
A few weeks ago, Molina sat down virtually for the first time with Kristin Richards, the acting director of IDES. With regard to the issues with contracted call takers in their call center, Richards said, “Quite frankly, it’s unacceptable.”
Richards told us the IDES is working on monitoring calls now, to prevent issues. And we know from a public records request that the department is also keeping track of how many dropped calls are actually returned by a human.
“We’re doing everything now through the lens of, how do we increase that productivity?” Richards said.
So what isn’t working? Why is a person like Loveless, who was promised a returned call – and who needed a returned call in order to get benefits – still waiting three weeks later?
Molina brought that question back to the state – asking who is holding call-takers accountable and why time-sensitive calls aren’t being returned. This was the IDES’ response:
“It appears you may be conflating two features within the callback system – dropped calls versus scheduled calls.
“If a call is dropped – for whatever reason – internal data analytics provide reports which allow call center agents to return dropped calls to impacted claimants. Those call back are being made, and call center agents are continually trained and informed about how to handle those dropped calls.
“The callback system also provides the ability to schedule follow-up callbacks. Essentially, this allows agents to circle back with claimants should the agent or claimant need time in the interim to, say, fill out or file a form. I’m unaware of any issue concerning these scheduled callbacks not being made, but will certainly look into it.”
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.