State of Illinois Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates - Click Here

Dear friends,

 

I’m writing to update you on efforts the state is taking to expand unemployment and to bolster the system for processing applications. Unemployment claims are at an unprecedented high, and I am in contact with the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security to keep up to date on the latest information to help you file a claim if you need to.

 

Yesterday, IDES spoke with lawmakers on some of the issues that the department has had with the massive influx of applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Governor Dan Hynes and IDES Director Thomas Chan hosted the call.

 

Director Chan spoke about the process of applying for regular unemployment insurance (UI). To briefly recap, for a person to be eligible for UI:

  • They must be unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • They must be actively seeking work.

 

Due to the closure of offices, applications are handled via telephone or online application. After filing an application, an applicant is assigned an initial certification date and the applicant must certify that they were unemployed. Recertification must be completed every other week after that initial certification. Also, claims can be backdated as long as IDES knows when your last date of work was.

 

Next, we discussed the new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress. The three programs are known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

  • FPUC- provides an additional $600 each week in federally funded benefits until the week ending July 25, 2020. This program has been implemented and payments are being made.
  • PEUC- provides an additional 13 weeks’ worth of federal funded benefits to those who have exhausted the initial 26 weeks. This will be implemented by next week.
  • PUA- provides 100% federally funded UI for those who do not normally receive UI including independent contractors and those not monetarily eligible (churches, church employees, those who didn’t earn money in the base period). This will be implemented by the week of May 11th.

 

Director Chan discussed why there have been delays on the PUA system, the unemployment for independent, gig economy, and contract workers. First and foremost, independent contractors are advised to apply now, which is a change from previous news on this. Those applicants have to be denied traditional unemployment to be eligible for the PUA program.

 

Part of the delay was due to the fact hundreds of pages worth of federal guidance for the PUA program was received just eight days ago, and the unemployment system that IDES uses was originally designed to exclude independent contractors. As a result, IDES has had to design a separate method to look at tax returns of those applicants who are independent contractors.

 

Next, Director Chan talked about how Illinois is handling the high amount of funds needed and the solvency of funding for unemployment. The good news: Illinois in in good shape currently, even with the increase in payouts. He said if our state fund were to become underfunded as a result, (as it did during the Great Recession), we would be able to borrow money from the federal government at little to no interest, or to issue bonds.

 

I am determined to keep you up to date as new information about unemployment becomes available, and will communicate further as soon as we know more.

 

Join me for a virtual town hall tonight at 7 p.m.

Tonight I will join U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman for a virtual town hall event to speak about coronavirus response at all levels of government. I hope you’ll join me for some important information and submit questions. The event will be available through a Facebook Live event, which you can find at the the 48th Ward Facebook Page at 7 p.m. tonight.

 

Volunteers Needed at the Lakeview Pantry

Since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the city, visitors to Lakeview Pantry, Chicago's largest food pantry, including all of the Pantry's food programs (physical sites, Online Market and Home Delivery) have increased by over 80%. To help keep up with demand, and offer a safe space for volunteers to help sort and pack food, the Pantry will be setting up and managing a temporary satellite food distribution center on the main concourse at Wrigley Field. They are in need of more volunteers to meet demand. Visit lakeviewpantry.org/volunteer/ to learn more and sign up. Can't volunteer? Consider making a donation to help those in need.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

COVID19 Updates

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