* I had some questions about the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s unemployment application system, so I sent them to the Pritzker administration and the governor’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh sent me a response…
Question: How many new servers have been brought online to handle IDES calls and how many simultaneous connections can the system handle?
Phones system: maximum number of caller capacity increased from 160 to 1700, we have a contract with Deloitte to stand up a call center to bring on additional people to answer calls. [I followed up and was told that Deloitte is scaling up to 200 workers and that some started this past Friday.]
IBIS Application: more than a 10x increase in server capacity; implemented best in class, real time application performance monitoring; and performed more than 30 configuration changes to optimize performance
Question: About how long does it take to cross-train workers to meet the federal guidelines and is this an ongoing process? How many have so far been trained?
It can take a year or more to train a staffer working with unemployment to understand the unemployment insurance program. This includes claims filing for regular, federal, military, and combined wage claims, resolving monetary eligibility issues, responding to employer protests, understanding employer charging, properly identifying non-monetary issues, overpayments, integrity, etc. Continuous education in all of these areas is required.
The Deloitte call center agents have received basic training, consisting of how to complete a claim application and the benefit rights information, which includes, but is not limited to, when and how to certify, how to file appeals information, payment options, able and available to work, reporting earning on certification when applicable, etc.
Question: Does IDES have a call-back system for people who can’t get through? If not, why not?
Yes. The call center has a call back function for those who select it. The claimant will keep their place in line and the system will automatically connect them to an agent.
Question: Is there any update to IDES’ PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] launch date [for 1099 workers]?
* OK, but what about this CBS 2 report?…
Gov. JB Pritzker has said there is no real backlog on jobless claims in Illinois.
But on Monday night, our sources said the backlog is real, and getting longer by the day. […]
The [IDES] employee sent a screenshot of unemployment claims that are yet to be adjudicated – 12,440 to be exact. All are out-of-work people waiting for interviews to find out if they can even get benefits.
The IDES employee said most were filed back in March and won’t even get interviewed until late this month – if then.
* Response from Rebecca Cisco at IDES…
For the weeks ending April 11 – April 25, which are the most recent periods for which data is available, 99.9% of claims have been paid in a timely manner as measured by USDOL guidelines.
The number reported in the CBS story, which attempted to reveal a 12,000 claim backlog, is highly inaccurate, misleading, and misrepresentative. The 12,000 number represents a number of current assignments in a system created to assist staffers in keeping track of the workflow action items that need to be conducted on any given day. This number is not indicative of claims, nor is it representative of a backlog. Assignments do not affect or interrupt claimants receiving benefits. Furthermore, there simply is no backlog of claims currently being processed, nor is there a backlog of claims to be paid.
* Back to CBS 2…
But our IDES source says it’s true those 12,440 people are receiving benefits but are waiting for interviews to make sure, as reported, they are actually eligible to get them. If an interview later determines they are not eligible, some or all of these people will have to pay the money back to the state.
Well, yeah. That’s how the unemployment system works. First, the station was repeatedly crusading on behalf of people who couldn’t get immediate assistance because they’d been found to have committed unemployment insurance fraud or other misdeeds in the past. And now this nothing-burger? Weird.