Marion IDES Office to Close

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By Stephanie Tyrpak

WILLIAMSON CO. -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security is cutting costs and closing its Marion location. It's a move that the department feels will benefit most people, but not everyone is on board with the move.

IDES has seen a sharp drop in people actually using in-person services, and unemployment benefits are already paid electronically. The switch to digital saves the department and the public money. However, some people say they depend on the Marion office to deal with problems.

"I've been having partial work and when I work, I turn in my earning," said Steve Diefenbach. "Well every time I do that, it kicks me off unemployment."
 
Diefenbach says he tried to make changes online.
 
"When I have to re-certify, the computer won't allow me," said Diefenbach. "The internet won't allow me to do it."
 
Aaron Hall just wanted to get his situation worked out in person.
 
"I've been out of a job for almost a month and don't have any money coming in," said Hall. "So it's really hard right now."
    
Both are frustrated that the office is set to close in the near future because of federal budget cuts. The next closest office will now be in Mt. Vernon.
 
IDES made the decision after the building lease came to an end. The closure is expected to save taxpayers about $170,000 a year.
 
An IDES spokesperson says that more than 30 locations across the state have been consolidated with few problems. That's because 90 percent of people use services online or through the call center. They never set foot inside an actual office.
  
Still, it's not much comfort for those looking for answers in Marion.
 
"You move everybody to Mt. Vernon and you're going to have that much more people there," said Hall.
 
The department wants to remind people of the correct website and telephone number to use.
 
Applications can be done online at ides.illinois.gov. 
 
The call center number is 800-244-5631. IDES says the average wait time is about 10 minutes. If the call volume it too high, people will be asked to leave a name and number. IDES says someone will return the call as soon as possible. 
 
LIHEAP and other assistance programs are also run out of the Marion office. They say they will continue to serve Williamson County and are in the process of finding a new location. People are being asked to still show up for appointments that have already been scheduled.
 
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