CHICAGO – In an effort to improve service for thousands of people collecting unemployment insurance, the Illinois Department of Employment Security launched a new way for claimants to certify that they are out of work and eligible for benefits. The new Internet Certification feature is the latest customer-service effort to streamline operations and make it easier to interact with the department, officials said Thursday.
Individuals can use the Internet at ides.state.il.us to answer a series of legally mandated questions that are required before a benefit payment can be released. Previously, certifying for benefits only was available through the telephone-based TeleServe System. TeleServe still is available.
“Looking for work can be very frustrating. Certifying for unemployment insurance should not be,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said. “There have been many calls lately for government to return to its core role of serving people quickly and efficiently. This is one way that can be done.”
Illinois’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 9.4 percent, up from 6.2 in April 2008. Nationally, the April rate was 8.9 percent, up from 5.0 percent the year before.
More than 432,000 people in Illinois collect unemployment insurance. In April, there were 3.9 million calls to TeleServe, the automated telephone system that also allows workers to certify for benefits, reopen an unemployment insurance claim, and obtain answers to other general questions.
This is the fourth significant service improvement enacted in the past seven months designed to meet increasing demand caused by the national recession. Previously, paper checks were eliminated in favor of the safer, faster and more reliable electronic disbursement through direct deposit or debit card. TeleServe hours twice were expanded and now accept calls from 5 a.m. -9 p.m. Computer software and telephone lines also were added to meet unprecedented call volumes.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security supports economic stability by administering unemployment benefits, collecting business contributions to fund those benefits, connecting employers with qualified job seekers, and providing economic information to assist career planning and economic development.