“I quit my job in the beginning of March and was supposed to start a new job a week later. The start date was March 16, and because of COVID-19 I never started the job.

“It’s been 12 weeks since I requested assistance and it’s still up in the air. I have not been able to get anything; it’s one roadblock in front of the other.

“I immediately went on the Illinois unemployment website. About a week and half later, I got a phone call from the [Illinois Department of Employment Security] and they said I was going to be contacted regarding an interview to ask me what happened and why I needed assistance.

“I waited and waited and about four weeks later I got the phone call. I [went through the interview] and the person said I qualified and there wouldn’t be a problem. I was told a check would arrive the week of May 8.

“A week went by, then another, and I didn’t get any money. I called back and the person told me they were still waiting on my interview. Confused, I told them the interview was four weeks ago and they said, once again, they’d call me back.

“Again, not hearing a response after a couple weeks, I called to find out that now I didn’t qualify because I didn’t officially work for the new company. The lady advised me to file for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

“I went to the PUA website and there’s a glitch in it. It’s not just for me. I’ve found out all sorts of people are having this problem. The PUA doesn’t let me file because it thinks I’m already getting unemployment money. Since it thinks I’m getting the regular benefits, I can’t get PUA benefits.

“I’ve called maybe 50 to 60 times and no one knows how to fix this glitch. Someone finally called me and said they’d fix the problem, but I haven’t heard back.

“I contacted my new company and they said there’s still no word about when they’ll call us back. It’s very frustrating, especially when your livelihood, your house, your groceries, everything is at risk.

“I was told the people working for IDES cannot help with the PUA. They are two completely different entities.

“IDES failed because they’re extremely short-handed and don’t have the resources to help everybody. The PUA site was built in a hurry and wasn’t tested, and the two departments don’t even have anything to do with each other.

“It’s a one-road solution. That’s why it’s so frustrating. I just want to be able to have an alternative solution. If this isn’t helping you, what can you do to get results?

“We need to have more assistance and a better way to help the people of Illinois deal with hard times like this.”

Ernie Sandoval
Automotive service manager
Mokena, Illinois