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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2010

Use Internet to Certify for Unemployment Benefits
Flooding at Telephone Switch Station, not IDES, Disrupts Calls

CHICAGO - Flooding at a telephone switching station has interrupted telephone service at the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Therefore, individuals collecting unemployment insurance benefits should use the internet, and not the telephone, to certify for those benefits, IDES said today.

Certifying for benefits is required before a benefit payment can be issued. Internet certification can be accomplished at www.ides.state.il.us  There is a drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the website. The second option, Claim Weeks of Benefits (Certify), can be used to certify for benefits.

IDES is not responsible for the telephone outage, which is connected to flooding from recent heavy rains. The outage is at equipment owned and operated by the telephone company, not IDES. The outage affects some of IDES’ telephone operations, but not internet. Although the outage is in Chicago, telephone certifications are interrupted statewide. It is unclear when the outage will end and telephone service will resume. Therefore, the IDES strongly encourages claimants to certify for benefits on the internet rather than the telephone-based TeleServe system.

Monday and Tuesday are the highest call-volume days for telephone certification. Claimants scheduled to certify for Monday and Tuesday, as well as all other claimants scheduled to certify for other days during the week, are strongly encouraged to use the website instead of the telephone. Individuals without internet access are encouraged to go to a local library or their local IDES office.

IDES customers can use the website to manage their benefits. Specifically, customers are encouraged to use the website to enroll in the direct deposit program rather than receive benefit payments on a debit card. There are no fees associated with a debit card when used inside more than 5,000 Illinois banks that accept Visa. Free transactions also are available at point-of-service counters that accept Visa, such as grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores. Customers can request cash back after qualifying purchases. Fees likely will be assessed when using out-of-network ATM machines.

This outage is unrelated to Congress’ decision on July 22 to extend unemployment insurance benefits. More than 150,000 Illinois claimants had their benefits interrupted while Congress debated the extension. More than 90 percent of those claimants have been paid one week after President Obama signed the extension into law. The remaining claimants, many of whom did not continue to certify for benefits as recommended, could be paid next week. 



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