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Unemployed Workers Struggle To Get Onto Illinois Unemployment Website, Receive Benefits

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Jobless claims are expected to soar again Thursday, delivering another blow to an already overwhelmed lifeline. People are still struggling to get onto the state's unemployment website.

On March 16, executive travel consultant Flora Mseis got the tough news.

"I was advised I would be furloughed from my position due to the COVID virus," she said.

Without hesitation, she sought unemployment relief from the state of Illinois.

"I tried to log into the website and just begin the process, but it kept freezing on me," Mseis said.

Thwarted by the website, she went to the state's employment office in Pilsen to apply in person and had to stay seven hours.

"I arrived at 10, and I left at 5," she said.

Mseis was assured she'd receive her first check in days, but it has been five weeks. She said the situation is "very frustrating."

Wednesday the federal labor department said it is offering technical support to the states to help them quickly process claims, but Gov. JB Pritzker was not clear whether Illinois is accepting such help.

"Here in Illinois I'm pleased to say that we're at least attempting heartily to address the challenge that people are having getting through," Pritzker said.

Mseis said she has contacted her landlord and ComEd asking for patience as she waits and waits for assistance from the state of Illinois.

"I'm just hoping that Pritzker can help us move this along a little bit faster" she said.

CBS 2 asked the United States Labor Department whether the federal government has been able to offer technical support to the state to process those claims faster but is still waiting for an answer.

People who are unemployed can receive help from the federal government in the form of $600 from the federal pandemic unemployment fund, the so-called plus up payment, that should be in addition to the state of Illinois's unemployment benefits.

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