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After Smooth Sailing With Unemployment Claims Last Year, Two Former Restaurant Workers Now On Rollercoaster Ride To Get Benefits

CHICAGO (CBS) — Week after week – practically daily – we’re Working for Chicago and investigating problems with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Today, the Morning Insiders found two women pleased with the system for months. Then 2021 hit. Now they’re swept up in IDES drama too.

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Morning Insider Lauren Victory take us on their rollercoaster ride.

“I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for almost 20 years now,” said former restaurant server Bex Geraci.

It’s a job she loves so much, she jumped right back in mid-pandemic.

“I worked fully until November, when the governor and the mayor shutdown indoor dining again,” she said.

Despite the restaurant server’s stops and starts, she was able to collect unemployment without a problem, until a letter came after she worked over the December holidays, informing her of “possible ineligibility” even though she reported the income.

“There’s definitely been a lot of tears of frustration, throwing my cellphone,” she said.

She resolved that problem, only to encounter a new one: a warning sign on her login screen.

“I’ve been fully locked out since Saturday, and of course I can’t get through to IDES,” she said.

Destiny Wissel is also on a rollercoaster ride. She collected unemployment for a full year with no issues.

“Just all of sudden, I received something in the mail and it’s just kind of confusing,” the former fast food manager said.

Page one of the letter tells her she has exhausted her benefits “because you have not had sufficient earnings,” but the second page shows she’s under a new claim and new weekly payment.

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“So am I suspended? Am I active?” she asked.

Unclear and unpaid.

No money’s come for either of these women for a few weeks. Both say they’d rather be hired than handling this mess. They’re on the hunt for jobs.

“I have to be up and moving around. It’s driving me crazy, actually,” Wissel said. “The thing is – that – I’ll take anything [any job].”

“I can’t wait on the government anymore,” Geraci said. “I’m not a satisfied recipient of IDES any longer.”

Searching for stability in still unsteady world.

An IDES spokesperson acknowledged a server error locked people out of their account, but said it has been fixed.

Geraci reports she was finally able to login late yesterday.

The IDES spokesperson also said she is not aware of any delay in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation payments, the extended benefits it appears Wissel may be eligible for.

Both women are still waiting for a callback from IDES to seek further clarification on claims.

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.

Source: CBS Chicago | News Colony

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