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Eligible Unemployed Workers Can't Get Benefits Through IDES Certification Process

CHICAGO (CBS) -- They can't get unemployment money, and they can't get the state to tell them why. CBS 2's tip line is filled with the same concerns. Everyone has called with the same general issue: They received unemployment benefits for a little while until, seemingly out of nowhere, the certification process pushed them out.

James Buchen is a chemical engineer who, like so many others, unexpectedly lost the job he loved to the global pandemic.

"Unemployment benefit is kind of an expectation should something like this happen," he said.

But expectation and reality are different.

"I can't rely on unemployment," Buchen said. "I don't feel represented or appreciated for time being in Illinois."

He has been forced to move in with family out of state.

"I've attempted to certify for unemployment claims since the end of August and have not been able to get through," he said. "It says, 'You cannot certify at this time.'"

He can't certify for the benefits he's eligible for. He can't get through to the state to find out why. And he's definitely not the only one.

CBS 2 heard from others, like Nicole Hayes.

"I'm now waiting 5 weeks," she said.

She is having the same certification issue and is concerned it is an issue with the website.

"It's kind of a mess," she said. "There's been so many glitches."

CBS 2's Tara Molina reached out to IDES to find out. The agency's spokesperson said the error message typically means a claimant is trying to certify too early or too late, but that's not the case with Buchen and Hayes. They say they have tried certifying on their designated days and every other day. The spokesperson for IDES could not explain why that would happen.

IDES won't release information about specific cases, for confidentiality's sake, but CBS 2 sent some more detailed information on this issue their way. When we hear back, we'll update this story.
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