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COVID-19 Unemployment Guidance

COVID-19 Unemployment Guidance

We have received numerous requests from 46th Ward residents for assistance with the Illinois Department of Unemployment Security since the beginning of the stay at home order. We have been working closely with the offices of our elected state officials including Representative Greg HarrisRepresentative Yoni Pizer , Senator Sara Feigenholtz, and Senator Heather Steans to make sure that people can get the assistance they need during this incredibly difficult time. Below are some helpful tips from Representative Kelly Cassidy’s office to navigate frequent issues with filing and continuing an unemployment claim:

  • After completing your application it will take about 10-12 business days for you to receive your UI findings letter with your approval amount in the mail.
  • If you have applied and have not received a UI findings letter with a benefit amount you may receive an email with your first certification date. It is crucial that you certify on your certification date. Not certifying on your date will result in you being locked out of your account which will require direct contact with an IDES staff member, which can take up to 2 weeks.
  • Certifying is required every two weeks to continue to receive your benefits.
  • If you received a letter stating that your work benefit amount is less or equal to your benefit amount you may have completed your application incorrectly. We would encourage you to submit a second application as this situation was most likely a clerical error during the application process.
  • Every individual that applies for unemployment benefits and does not sign up for direct deposit will be issued a debit card even if they will eventually be denied. We have seen individuals experience a variety of issues with these cards so if you are able we highly encourage you sign up for direct deposit.
  • If you were receiving unemployment and you or your employer were awarded a PPP loan you will need to report this income to IDES and may no longer be eligible for unemployment.
  • If you believe you were wrongfully denied unemployment we encourage you to file an appeal and submit a second application.
  • If you are a 1099, sole proprietor or gig worker who is newly eligible for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program you need to apply for regular State unemployment program now, be denied and then wait till mid May for the PUA program to open. Your denial for regular state unemployment will be the basis of your eligibility into the federal program. Keep checking Rep. Cassidy’s office website for updates.
  • The 13 week extension of benefits has already begun for those that have exhausted their benefits and some individuals have received letters in the mail and/or emails updating them on the extension. In most cases these benefits will kick in automatically as long as you continue to certify for benefits. In some cases individuals may need to have their claim reopened but this isn’t a separate program, individuals will need to reach an agent to reopen their claim if their extension has not taken effect.

*Technical issues including but not limited to resetting of pin, being locked out of an account, and error messages when trying to file a claim require individuals to speak to an IDES representative in order to reset their account. We can place your name on a call back list with the department for cases requiring staff intervention, but it is taking approximately 2 weeks. We have been recommending that while waiting for a call back that people keep trying to call in as well. Individuals are encouraged to continue to try to reach a representative at 800- 244-5631 the line is open daily with extended hours from 7:30am – 6pm.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE 
The new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides benefits for many individuals who have been determined ineligible for state unemployment benefits. Independent contractors, sole proprietors, and self-employed individuals are encouraged to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Anyone who qualifies for PUA will automatically be entitled to the baseline benefit amount plus the $600/week added benefit from the federal stimulus bill. PUA will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who would not usually be eligible for traditional benefits, and these benefits will be backdated to the date of your COVID-19 related job loss. Please note that these workers should first apply for standard UI benefits, as their denial letter from IDES is the basis of their eligibility with PUA. Applicants can choose to enroll in direct deposit for their benefits instead of using a debit card, and IDES recommends this option to avoid waiting on a physical card in the mail.

To learn more about PUA, please visit the IDES website and and view the Expanded Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Guide.