Illinois woman calls unemployment office 500+ times, gets no answers

One million people in Illinois have filed for unemployment since March, and when it comes to getting benefits, some have had more success than others.

One woman says she called the Illinois unemployment office more than 500 times Monday and still found herself stuck without answers.

Corey Bell is a comedian by profession, but these tough times have been no laughing matter.

“I called [the unemployment office] 542 times just yesterday,” the mother of four said.

She knew no one would believe it, so she logged every time she called. Like many who have complained about the state’s online system, she went there first.

“I tried to log into the system for six weeks. It would say my username was wrong or my password needed to be reset,” Bell said.

So she called the office and got nowhere.

FOX 32 watched as several people showed up to the Illinois Department of Employment Security Office on Lawrence Avenue Tuesday -- many with the same complaints hoping to speak to someone in person, but the office was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, 44,000 Illinoisans filed for unemployment benefits. FOX 32 took the issue to Governor JB Pritzker.

“Go online and they should be able to file online,” the governor said. “We have upgraded the phone system and the number of people answering the phones.”

The system has been at times overwhelmed, but it completely shut down Monday.

For Bell, she is a fighter. Instead of caving in to worry, the comedian is looking for work and still finding a way to make people laugh.

“I am auditioning for all kinds of stuff,” she said.

Bell was able to file in Illinois after doing some digging on her own, but she still does not know if she has been approved.