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A Brief Overview of Unemployment Benefits in Illinois During COVID-19 Shutdown

April 8, 2020

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has announced emergency rules regarding unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help combat the novel coronavirus, Governor Pritzker ordered all bars and restaurants to stop serving dine-in customers, and then issued a stay-at-home order leaving just “essential” businesses in operation.

Here at Accel, we understand why these precautions were put in place, while appreciating that these measures have also left people out of work.  We are providing a short summary of these new benefit parameters to help during this time. 

The new emergency rules adopted during the coronavirus pandemic open up unemployment to a much larger group of workers. This means many people who would not typically qualify for unemployment, or who have previously maxed out benefits, can receive aid during the state of emergency.

Under the Federal stimulus package, funding will flow to States to help cover expanded unemployment benefits.  An additional 13 weeks of payments have been added to the 26 weeks already allowed in Illinois.  Currently, Illinois provides 47% of weekly wages up to $471, and the Federal government is providing an additional $600 per week to your normal State benefits.

Employees Temporarily Laid Off Due to COVID-19 Can Get Unemployment Compensation

Illinois residents who are temporarily out of work because their employer has closed due to the coronavirus can qualify for unemployment if they meet all the other basic requirements. The State does not expect individuals to be actively seeking new employment during the stay-at-home order.  As long as applicants are prepared to return to their job as soon as their employer re-opens, they’ll be considered to be actively seeking work and can qualify.

How to Apply for Illinois Unemployment Benefits

You can call IDES at (800) 244-5631 or 866-488-4016 (TTY), but users are urged to file claims on the IDES website. Do not go in person: as of March 19, IDES offices are closed to the public until further notice.

Federal Relief for Illinois Residents

The Federal government is going to send many people a one-time payment to help with the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  There are income requirements in order to receive this payment, which will be based on your most recent tax return on file.  If you have not yet filed your 2019 or 2018 tax returns, your payment could be delayed.  Otherwise, you don’t need to actively do anything to receive this stimulus payment.  

If you filed individually and had an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000, you will receive $1,200. If you made more than $75,000, you will receive $5 less for every $100 earned above $75,000.  The payment goes to $0 at an AGI of $99,000.

Married couples who filed jointly and had an AGI of less than $150,000 will receive $2,400 per couple. AGI more than $150,000 will reduce the payment by $5 for every $100 earned above $150,000.  The payment goes to $0 at an AGI of $198,000.

You will also receive $500 for each child under 17 who was claimed on your tax return, although this payment phases out at the same rates described above.

A good summary of many of the benefits in the Federal stimulus package can be found by clicking here.

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