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With Federal Stimulus Ending, Some Are More Worried Than Ever About Getting Illinois Unemployment Benefits They're Owed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As more states press pause on reopening because of COVID-19, jobless claims are on the rise again.

Analysts expect more than $1 million new claims when the report is released Thursday morning, and that could only make it worse for people still struggling to get benefits they are owed.

And now, as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, some fear they could miss out on thousands of dollars in federal help too.

A representative of the Illinois Department of Employment Security confirmed the federal stimulus money ends this week – July 25. That leaves some who are owed benefits, but are still not getting them, concerned that they will lose that extra money.

"It's big time. I'm the only source of income," said Charles Kolander.

Kolander said he is one of the lucky ones. The lifelong lithographer is still working two days a week, and qualified for unemployment benefits to make up the difference in his lost income.

He has gotten three weeks of benefits, but then early last month, he got a notice of possible ineligibility.

And he got it despite sending in pay stubs, other requested documentation, and calling – a lot. He even kept a call log.

"I never heard from them," Kolander said. "Not a peep."


He got his hopes up July 9, when he successfully signed up for a callback in the IDES' new callback system. Again, crickets.

"You know, the funny thing is, is that the closing when you're done with that, they tell you you can't call back," Kolander said. "Once you're in the system, you're not allowed to call back."

Kolander said he is owed six weeks of unemployment benefits and counting. He is hoping to straighten out the problem before the federal $600 a week stimulus money ends on July 25.

He fears he will be left hanging until it's too late.

"Then they straighten it out, and they're going to say, 'Oh, by the way, that money's gone now, you can't get it, because it's ended, so you're just out of luck," Kolander said.

IDES spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco said anyone owed benefits from March 29 through July 25 will still get that extra money. She did not say if they have set that money aside for retroactive cases, or exactly where that money will come from.

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.

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.

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