This article was last updated on January 20
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) manages the states’ unemployment insurance program. See further details below (summarized for simplicity from the IDES site) on the newly enhanced benefits available now and how to file a claim. Keep reading for more details and helpful tips if you are having issues with your unemployment claim.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. To receive FPUC benefits, you must first be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA. So if there delays in rolling out or renewing your claim for those programs, then your $300 extra weekly payment will be delayed.
Illinois IDES Payment Status and Updates on 2021 Unemployment Extensions (PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC)
Per their social media (twitter) updates IDES has begun paying the $300 FPUC supplement for week ending Jan 2, 2021 to locals receiving regular UI, State extended benefits and with active Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims as of December 27th, 2020. Those who had exhausted their benefits prior to December 27th, are still unable to receive benefits under the new extension, including the extra $300 weekly payment. IDES is still updating their systems to make this payment.
[Update Jan 20th] IDES is only paying the extended coverage benefits to active claimants (those who have weeks left to certify). They are still updating their systems to cover those who had exhausted benefits prior to December 27th and are eligible for PUA and PEUC payments under the new 11 week extension. Once that it is done IDES is supposed to notify claimants on instructions to get the extended weeks. When they are able to certify for these weeks, they will also get the supplementary $300 payment. Unfortunately no clear date on when the system updates will be completed.
Final guidelines on these programs and final eligibility including additional document verification procedures to combat Fraud have been issued by the Department of Labor and then have to be implemented by the state UI agency in their systems and programs. So this could delay the actual date of payments.
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- IDES advises to continue to certify as normal for the unemployment benefits you’re currently receiving. Regular UI claimants should continue to certify to transition to PEUC and EB (required by new legislation) which will happen once systems are updated.
- Current PUA claimants can certify for week ending Jan 2, 2021 for no interruption in coverage. The new extension laws require additional documentation verification requirements on new claims, and IDES expects to to resume taking new PUA claims from week of Jan 10th, 2021 (or earlier)
- Claimants will be retroactively caught up on payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional details as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program
IDES has now paid out the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provided supplementary payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who were unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. The new LWA payment would be in addition to Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments currently available to unemployed workers
IDES has updated their systems to process LWA applications and validate eligibility for benefits under this program with payments starting during the week of September 8th. They will be retroactive to the week of August 1st and only available for 6 weeks ($1800 maximum) due to FEMA funding limitations. Payments are being made in batches with the first round covering 3 weeks (up to $900) based on the original FEMA grant. Subsequent weeks will be paid in separate batches or in one additional 3 week lump sum depending on claimant eligible weeks.
There is no new application for LWA. Claimants eligible for LWA (>$100 in existing UI benefits) will automatically receive LWA funds in addition to their weekly benefit amount. Eligible claimants will get the extra $300 supplementary payment at the same time as their unemployment benefits payment. See more on the IDES LWA page.
Note – Due to the $100 minimum weekly benefit (+ dependent allowance) threshold for existing UI benefits, approximately 60,000 Illinois claimants will be denied access to LWA. This is the main reason many unemployed people are not seeing LWA payments.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits
Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance now available:
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): provides an additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all recipients of Unemployment Insurance; retroactive to the week ending April 6, 2020. They will see the additional supplemental income applied to their weekly benefit amount. This increase is available through the week ending July 25, 2020.
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to all recipients. If you have exhausted regular unemployment benefits, a Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claim will be filed for you and up to 13 additional weeks of PEUC benefits will be added to your balance.
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for
Unemployment benefits, for example independent contractors, and self-employed and “gig” workers. IDES began accepting applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program beginning on May 11. Here are the steps to follow to apply:
1. Apply for regular unemployment before you apply for PUA
2. If you applied for regular unemployment and have been denied between April 1, 2019 and today, do not reapply. Go into your regular unemployment account and set up direct deposit for payment.
3. Have your 2019 tax return or proof of income ready and available
4. Be prepared to certify
5. Remember: You must submit a new application for PUA. The two systems are not transferrable.
Failure to provide all the requested information means your claim will have to be manually reviewed and corrected by IDES staff. If IDES is unable to make the corrections, prior to when you certify (request payment), your benefits will be delayed or the amount you receive will be less than it should be. Any information submitted by you to IDES may be verified through computer matching progams in order to determine your eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefits.IDES
Filing a Claim
If you haven’t already applied, you can File for Regular Unemployment Benefits via the IDES page. Note – Do not re-apply for regular unemployment benefits, if you have applied and been denied within twelve months of today’s date-instead file for PUA.
Within 7-10 days of filing your claim, you will receive a blank debit card and a UI Finding in the mail which will tell you whether you are monetarily eligible for benefits, meaning you have earned sufficient wages in your base period. In general, you are monetarily eligible for benefits if you earned at least $1,600 in covered employment in the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters, including $440 outside the quarter in which wages were highest. For example, if you earned $1,100 in January 2019 and $500 in July 2019, you earned sufficient wages in your base period to be monetarily eligible.
If your UI Finding says you are not monetarily eligible (weekly benefit amount shows $0), this means that according to reports employers are required to provide IDES of wages paid for services in employment, you were not paid enough wages during your base period to qualify for regular unemployment benefits.
If, during your base period, you did not receive any payments for services that you performed for others (e.g., if you were a sole proprietor), you may apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. See more details here.
Certify or “claim certification” is used to describe how you claim weeks of unemployment and receive payment of benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements. On your assigned day and on a bi-weekly basis, you certify by answering a set of questions.
The best way to certify for payment of benefits is online (links below to IDES site). These services are available Monday – Friday from 3:00 AM to 7:30PM.
If you filed a claim for benefits and were determined monetarily eligible, read our “What Every Worker Should Know About Unemployment Insurance” brochure to find out what comes next.
If our records are not correct, and you did perform services for a business or another individual and were paid for those services during your base period, please send documentation of the services that you performed and the payments you received to the Department as soon as possible.