New Free Legal Tool 'Benny' Can Help You Apply For Unemployment Benefits

The unemployment benefits virtual assistant is a free online tool for Illinois residents who are unemployed and need help getting benefits.
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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- If you are feeling the stresses of applying for unemployment benefits with no luck, a new virtual assistant tool could be your new best friend.

Meet Benny, a new online helper that was created to make applying for unemployment benefits a little easier.

Benny, launched on Sept. 7, is a joint project of CARPLS Legal Aid and the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois. CARPLS is a nonprofit legal aid organization in Illinois that has been helping everyday people with their legal problems for over 25 years.

The virtual assistant is free, confidential, and available from a computer or smartphone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here's how it works: visit the website and answer a few questions about your Illinois Department of Employment Security unemployment application process. Then the tool helps identify roadblocks and benefits, and helps you navigate the unemployment hearing and appeals process.

Benny
Benny Photo credit CARPLS Legal Aid

For extra assistance, Benny will connect users to a free legal aid lawyer for a confidential legal consultation, or other legal aid resources available online.

“Getting unemployment benefits is crucial to many Illinois families right now, but navigating the application process alone can be so difficult that some applicants give up,” said Pat Wrona, director of Legal Services at CARPLS, in a statement. “We created Benny so that Illinois workers don’t have to handle this alone and can quickly get the help they need.”

With the whopping 28.2 million workers of Illinois who filed unemployment applications, people aren't getting through to IDES. The department reported an unemployment increase for July and that jobs were down in the state's 14 metro areas.

Many are struggling following the loss of the extra $600 they were getting each week. According to CBS 2, the aid is geared toward helping the 28.2 million workers who are currently collecting their states’ regular unemployment benefits, which typically replaces only a fraction of a worker’s regular income.