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Dear Constituent,
 
Daily life for many Illinoisans has changed dramatically over the last couple of weeks due to COVID-19, and the pandemic is creating many new challenges for families in our community.
 
If you are feeling anxious, depressed or scared about the future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please know that you are not alone and there are many free resources available to help if you are feeling overwhelmed, including Call4Calm, a new free-of-charge emotional support text line available through the Illinois Department of Human Services.
 
To use Call4Calm, text “TALK” for English or “HABLAR” for Spanish to 552020. Once a resident texts Call4Calm, a licensed counselor will reach out by phone within 24 hours. Call4Calm is free to use and all communication through the service is anonymous.
 
Keeping your routine, eating healthy, monitoring news and social media usage, and regularly checking in with friends and loved ones can also help calm feelings of stress anxiety. Taking care of your mental health is just as critical as your physical health, and prioritizing your wellbeing is important, especially during this time.
 
If you have other general questions about COVID-19 and Illinois’ response and guidance, I encourage you to reach out to the Illinois Department of Public Health at 1-800-889-3931 or DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV. You can also stay up to date with announcements from the governor’s office and other state agencies at coronavirus.illinois.gov.
 
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, or for more information on Call4Calm and other mental health resources, please contact my constituent service office at 773-473-7300 or via email at staterepcamilleylilly@gmail.com
 
Stay safe and be well.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Camille Y. Lilly
State Representative, 78th District
Illinois House of Representatives
101st General Assembly

 

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
in Illinois Test Results

 
Governor Pritzker Announces Expansion of Payment Relief for Student Loan Borrowers
 
Borrowers Who Need Relief Should Immediately Reach Out to Their Loan Servicer
 
Chicago – Building on measures to address the unprecedented economic challenges facing Illinois as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Pritzker and Secretary Hagan of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced that Illinois has secured relief options with twenty private student loan servicers to expand on the protections the federal government granted to federal student loan borrowers. These new options stand to benefit over 138,000 Illinoisans with privately held student loans.
 
“I’m happy to announce that, as of today, more student loan borrowers in Illinois will now get relief,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “IDFPR has worked tirelessly to secure loan relief options with twenty student loan servicers. Impacted borrowers can immediately contact their loan provider to get relief with these new options.”
 
“At this unprecedented time of financial hardship, it was essential to find a way to provide relief to all student loan borrowers who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’m pleased that we were able to work with several states and servicers to get this done for our Illinois students,” said Secretary Deborah Hagan, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
 
The federal CARES Act provided much-needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020. However, the CARES Act left out millions of student loan borrowers with federal loans that are not owned by the US Government as well as loans made by private lenders. 
 
Under this new initiative, Illinoisans with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief.  Borrowers in need of assistance must immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include:
  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance
  • Waiving late payment fees
  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days
  • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income based repayment.
Additionally, if regulated student loan servicers are limited in their ability to take these actions due to investor restrictions or contractual obligations, servicers should instead proactively work with loan holders whenever possible to relax those restrictions or obligations. Prudent and reasonable actions taken to support relief for borrowers during the pandemic will not be subject to examiner criticism from IDFPR.

To determine the types of federal loans they have and who their servicers are, borrowers can visit the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at nslds.ed.gov or call the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or 1-800-730-8913 (TDD). Borrowers with private student loans can check the contact information on their monthly billing statements.

If a borrower is experiencing trouble with their student loan servicer, they are encouraged to contact the following and file a complaint:  Governor Pritzker and Secretary Hagan’s actions to work cooperatively with other states to secure these accommodations with twenty private student loan servicers will provide relief to thousands of Illinois students. States joining the initiative include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
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ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY: LEGISLATIVE FAQ (PART ONE)
APRIL 17, 2020
 
The Department of Employment and Security (IDES) has issued a Part-One FAQ that answers some of the questions that members of the General Assembly have submitted. We will continue to work on the remainder of the questions and appreciate your patience and cooperation.
Please continue to submit your inquiries to James Preckwinkle: James.Preckwinkle@Illinois.gov, and Ciara Wagoner: Ciara.Wagoner@Illinois.gov, and we will do our best to get you an answer as soon as possible.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
James Preckwinkle
 
 
IDES Helpline: (800) 244-5631
IDES Website: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx

 
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ELIGIBILITY
 
Q: Is there any financial relief being offered for an individual who is still working, but has had their hours cut in half due to COVID-19? Are they eligible to apply for unemployment for hours they have lost?

A: Anyone who is unemployed or underemployed should file for unemployment and IDES will determine eligibility. If an individual’s earnings are less than their weekly benefit amount, they may qualify for unemployment benefits, though the benefits may be reduced.

Q: Does an individual need to be providing proof of job search?
 
A: Every 2 weeks claimants must certify that they were able to work and actively sought work during the prior two weeks. They are also required to register with Illinois Job link, keep a “Job Search” record and provide a copy if requested.

At the start of the COVID crisis, IDES adopted emergency rules suspending the requirement that a claimant register with Illinois Job Link if their unemployment is due to a temporary lay-off resulting from COVID-19. To meet the A&A requirements, someone temporarily laid off due to COVID just has to be ready to return to work.

Q: Do people need to register at Illinoisjoblink if they are just waiting for their employer to reinstate them?

A: IDES suspended the requirement that a claimant register with Illinois Job Link if their unemployment is due to a temporary lay-off resulting from COVID-19.

Q: Would someone who works part-time and receives disability benefits through Social Security still be eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: An individual who works part-time and whose weekly wages are less than their weekly benefit amount could be eligible for full or partial benefits depending on the amount of the weekly wages. Social Security benefits are no longer considered disqualifying income and would not influence the part-time worker’s benefits

Q: If someone has contracted COVID-19 and is required to self-isolate, can they apply for
unemployment? Does IDES require a doctor’s note?
A: They may be eligible for UI or PUA if they can still work (data entry, virtual assistant, anything that can be done remotely from home). A doctor’s note may be required for regular UI, depending on the circumstances of the separation. The rules for PUA are still being reviewed but it is our understanding that for PUA, we may be required to obtain a doctor’s note.

Q: What options are available for an individual who would not regularly qualify for unemployment because they did not work at their place of employment long enough to pay into unemployment insurance, but also would not qualify as a contract worker?

A: PUA is not limited to independent contractors; this individual is potentially eligible for PUA if their unemployment is related to COVID-19.

Q: Is there a specific window in which an individual must apply for unemployment after losing their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: If an individual is out of work through no fault of their own, under IDES rules (56 IAC 2720.105), the individual is required to file for unemployment “no later than the end of the first week in which the claimant is separated from work.” If the claim is filed after that, under the same rule, the claim will begin in the week in which it was filed unless it is backdated.

IDES will backdate a claim if the claimant was unable to file due to system or staffing limitations, or because the system did not yet exist.

Q: Workers who were laid off and now have been offered a job cannot begin working until they get background checks. Unfortunately, drug screening and background checks are not happening until after April 30th. This leaves the individual with no job, no benefits, and they cannot pay their bills because they are being denied by IDES. What is the solution for this gap in coverage?

A: This individual should file a claim for benefits. Regular benefits or PUA benefits may be available in this circumstance.

Q: If an individual has been laid off from their full-time employment, but also has a part-time job, will they still qualify for unemployment benefits?

A: Potentially. An individual who works part-time and whose weekly wages are less than their weekly benefit amount could be eligible for full or partial benefits depending on the amount of the weekly wages

Q: Is the individual’s approval of unemployment benefits dependent on their employer filling
something out or being reachable when IDES calls?
 
A: When a claim is filed, IDES sends the employer a notice of the claim, so they are informed of the filing. If the employer disagrees with the reason for separation identified by the claimant, wants to question the employer’s chargeability status, or if they believe the claimant is still employed, it is their decision whether to respond or protest the claim. Whether they respond, chose not to respond, or are unreachable during the adjudication process, IDES makes a determination of the claimant’s eligibility based on the available data and information, including reaching out to the claimant at the scheduled interview time. Not all eligibility issues require employer input.
 
Q: If an employer continues to pay part-time employees, are they eligible to receive state benefits during the COVID-19 shutdown period? If not eligible for state benefits, will these employees be eligible for the federal $600 benefit?

A: An individual who works part-time and whose weekly wages are less than their weekly benefit amount could be eligible for full or partial benefits depending on the amount of the weekly wages. Under federal law, anyone eligible for at least a $1 WBA will be eligible for the $600 FPUC. But if an individual’s WBA is $0, they do not qualify for FPUC.

Q: What is the recourse for a business owner if an employee has already received unemployment, and it was not as much as they would have made while working? Can the business use the funds to supplement the UE they already received for the weeks not worked?

A: If the individual is working and being paid wages, those amounts may offset UI benefits. If the
employer pays them outside payroll (e.g., a gift), it wouldn’t be considered wages.
 
 
APPLICATION AND CERTIFICATION FOR UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
 
 
Q: Is there a paper application process available for people to be able to apply and mail in their application?

A: Yes, but we strongly encourage a claimant to file through the online system to the best of their ability. This is the easiest, fastest, and safest way to file a claim.
The paper application can be found here.
 
Q: If an individual is filing for unemployment for the very first time, do they have to certify before receiving payment?

A: Yes. After filing a claim for benefits, the claimant will receive a “UI Finding” which will indicate
the day of the week the claimant is to certify and his or her first certification date.
 
Q: What should an individual do if they apply for unemployment on the IDES website, and it says
that the individual’s information cannot be validated?
 
A: Call the IDES claimant call center at (800) 244-5631.
 
Q: Is there an option available for Spanish speaking individuals who are applying for unemployment benefits?
 
A: Yes. The claim application is also in Spanish.
 
PAYMENTS, DIRECT DEPOSIT AND DEBIT CARDS
 
 
Q: An individual receiving unemployment benefits has chosen to use a KeyBank card. They have been confirmed to receive unemployment benefits, but the money has not been loaded on the card. What are next steps for the individual?
 
A: After the claim is filed, claimants certify for payment of benefits every other week. The payment is typically received within 1 to 2 business days. Recently, one of the files IDES sent to our vendor, KeyBank, became corrupted during transmission, impacting some claimants. IDES identified these claimants and manually reissued payment. As of Monday, 04/13, this issue was resolved, and all missed payments had been reissued.
 
Direct deposit is also available and highly recommended.
 
Q: How does an individual create a PIN for their KeyCard? Is there an option online to reset a PIN?

A: When claimants receive their card, the sticker on the front directs them to call 866-295-2955. This number allows the claimant to register their card and create a PIN. They can also call this number to reset their PIN and access other cardholder options. For security purposes, there is no way to change a PIN online.

Q: If someone were successful in filing their unemployment application, when can they expect to receive their first check?

A: Assuming eligibility, approximately two to three weeks after filing. Unemployment benefits are paid for weeks of unemployment, which typically occur after someone files for unemployment. So normally, after filing a claim for benefits, two weeks must pass before the individual can certify for their unemployment during those two weeks. After certifying, the individual receives payment within one to two business days.

Q: Can an individual find out how much they are expected to receive in unemployment benefits?
 
A: An individual that files for unemployment insurance benefits will receive a “UI Finding” from IDES, which will state the individual’s weekly benefit amount, if any. Before applying for benefits or  receiving a  UI Finding,  it  is possible for an  individual to  view  a  “Table  of  Weekly  Benefit
 Amounts” on the IDES website. This would require the individual to know their reported wages during each quarter of their base period. Rather than guess or estimate the wages that were reported, if an individual is unemployed or underemployed, they should file a claim. After filing the claim, IDES will tell the individual the exact amount of benefits the individual is entitled to receive, if any.

Q: Will unemployment benefits for individuals be applied retroactively?
 
A: Yes, up to the limits allowed by federal law.
 
PUA claims will be backdated to the week they became eligible, which is typically the individual’s first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2, 2020, and will continue for as long as the individual’s remains unemployed as a result of COVID-19, but no later than the week ending December 26, 2020.
 
The first week for which FPUC may be paid is the week beginning March 29, 2020. The last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending July 25, 2020.

The first possible week for which PEUC may be paid is the week beginning March 29, 2020. The last week that PEUC benefits may be paid is the week ending December 26, 2020.

Q: If it takes 2-3 weeks to receive a KeyBank card, how does that individual access their unemployment benefits immediately?

A: Unemployment benefits for prior weeks of unemployment, not future weeks of unemployment. When someone files for benefits, a debit card is mailed. After filing a claim for benefits, two weeks must pass before the individual can certify for their unemployment for those weeks. After certifying, the individual’s payment is put on their debit card within a day or two.

Payment by direct deposit is also available, and strongly encouraged.
 
Q: Can unemployment benefits be expedited if someone has a medical condition or other urgent need?

A: There is no mechanism for expediting unemployment benefits. Benefits are paid once someone certifies they have been unemployed for the previous two-week period.
 
 
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE (PUA) & SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS
 
 
Q: When will IDES have a system ready for self-employed workers to file unemployment?
 
A: Before IDES pays unemployment benefits, state or federal, the department is required to determine whether the individual is an employee or an independent contractor. Many individuals, up to 60% the last time USDOL looked into this, do not apply for unemployment because they believe they are not eligible. Many do not believe they are eligible because they have been told they are an independent contractor. However, the legal definition for independent contractor is narrower than the general public typically understands it to be.

Anyone who is unemployed or under-employed today should file for unemployment and IDES will determine their eligibility. Workers who are ultimately determined exempt from the unemployment system will be transitioned to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. IDES expects to be able to begin to pay PUA by the week of May 11th.

Please note that the earnings requirement for the regular unemployment are different for PUA, so IDES will need to reach out to these truly independent contractors to obtain proof of their income.

Q: Is Illinois still waiting on funding from the federal government, or is it a logistical issue for IDES regarding self-employed individuals’ ability to apply for unemployment?

A: The Illinois unemployment insurance system has always been designed to exclude independent contractors. Independent contractors and the individuals they perform services for do not pay contributions (taxes) into the unemployment system. Since the release of the federal guidelines on the PUA program on April 5, 2020, IDES and DoIT have been working expeditiously to procure and establish an entirely new system for accepting, processing, and paying unemployment benefits to this new population. A program of this magnitude would normally take up to a year to procure and another year to design, test, and implement. Because of the suspension of procurement laws and the full backing of the state’s IT resources, IDES reasonably estimate that implementation will be complete by May 11, 2020.

That said, there are still issues that need to be resolved. For example, under the regular unemployment system, employers report wages to IDES on a monthly or quarterly basis. These wages become the base period earnings IDES relies on to establish a claimant’s monetary eligibility. Because the income of independent contractors is not collected by IDES, we are in the process of setting up a system that will collect an independent contractor’s previously completed tax return in order to determine eligibility and benefit amount. If IDES had not sought to procure a new IT infrastructure for this program, we would have been forced to use paper applications to file and excel spreadsheets to track claims. The number of claims expected to be paid under this new program would have been prohibitively high for the old pen-and-paper tracking system. IDES believes its investment of money, time, and staff resources on the front-end will result in faster benefit payments to all eligible individuals on the back-end.
 
Q: When will applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the CARES Act be open?

A: If someone is unemployed or underemployed, they should file for unemployment immediately. Upon receipt of the application, IDES will handle the claim so that the individual receives benefits from the proper program. IDES expects to be able to begin paying PAU benefits by the week of May 11th.

Q: Will gig workers and self-employed individuals not be eligible for unemployment until June 1?
 
A: Many “gig economy” workers are eligible for regular unemployment. Self-employed individuals may be eligible for PUA, which is projected to be implemented the week of May 11. The law does not set June 1 as a deadline date or a start date for PUA benefits.

Q: Is there a timeline available for full implementation of the CARES Act?
 
A: PUA is expected to be the final piece of the CARES Act to be implemented, with a projected start date of May 11, 2020.

Q: Workers who were laid off and now have been offered a job cannot begin working until they get background checks. Unfortunately, drug screening and background checks are not happening until after April 30th. This leaves the individual with no job, no benefits, and they cannot pay their bills because they are being denied by IDES. What is the solution for this gap in coverage?

A: This individual should file a claim for benefits. Regular benefits or PUA benefits may be available in this circumstance.
 
Q: Will independent contractors/self-employed individuals be able to apply for PPP beginning April 10? If an individual receives that loan, will it affect their ability to apply for unemployment benefits once IDES is able to process their claim?

A: IDES does not administer the PPP program. For questions regarding the Payment Protection Program, please contact the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity at ceo.support@illinois.gov.
 
 
FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION ($600 INCREASE)
 
 
Q: Will the additional $600 be added to a calculated percentage of unemployment, bringing the
total amount of benefits to 100% of an employee’s wage earnings?
 
A: The $600 federal supplemental is added on top of the claimant’s weekly benefit amount. The
sum may be less than the employee’s wage earnings. If a claimant’s weekly benefit amount is
$400, they will be receiving, every two weeks, a payment in the amount of $2,000
 
Q: Once an individual’s application is processed and they begin receiving their unemployment
benefits, will they also be receiving the additional $600 at the same time?
 
A: Yes. Under federal law, anyone eligible for at least a $1 weekly benefit amount will be eligible for the $600 plus up. The first week for which FPUC may be paid is the week beginning March 29, 2020; and the last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending July 25, 2020.

Q: Who is eligible for the additional $600?
 
A: Anyone who receives at least $1 of state or federal unemployment benefits for a week, during the period from March 29, 2020 through July 25, 2020.

Q: Is the $600 extra weekly unemployment insurance benefit covered by the federal government for non-profit employers who are in a “reimbursable arrangement” with IDES?
A: Yes.
 
Q: Reduced hours will have state benefits that are $0 – will they still receive $600?
 
A: Reduced hours may not have a $0 weekly benefit amount. But if an individual’s weekly benefit amount is $0, they do not qualify for FPUC. Similarly, if an individual earns more than his/her WBA in a week, then that individual will not be eligible to receive benefits for that week. If the individual is not eligible for any amount of benefits for that week, the individual will also not receive the $600 for that week.
 
PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (PEUC, EXTENSION TO REGULAR UI BENEFITS)
 
 
Q: If an individual was receiving unemployment insurance before COVID-19, do they qualify for additional weeks of insurance?

A: They may be eligible for up to 26 additional weeks of unemployment on the federal extension programs (PEUC and PUA). If their benefit year ends and the federal programs are no longer in effect, they may qualify for another benefit year.

Q: Is IDES planning on implementing the expansion of the duration of benefits and additional 13 weeks for those who have exhausted them?

A: The federal PEUC will provide up to 13 additional weeks. PUA will provide an additional 13 weeks on top of individuals who were eligible for underlying regular UI and PEUC. Individuals who were not eligible for those programs, e.g., independent contractors and sole proprietors, are potentially eligible for up to 39 weeks of 100% federally funded benefits.

Q: Has IDES implemented the increased weeks the federal government is giving unemployment? If not, is there a timeline?

A: First payments under this program are expected the week of April 20.
 
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS, RATES, AND REIMBURSEMENT

Q: Does Illinois have employers that participate in a “reimbursable arrangement,” where the employer generally pays all the cost of benefits when they have a worker qualify for unemployment? Do Illinois units of local government participate in this arrangement?

A: Yes, government entities and not-for-profit employers can elect to be reimbursable. The State of Illinois is required to be reimbursable.

Q: Will businesses that have employees file for unemployment still be negatively impacted by unemployment rates in the future?

A: Assuming no legislative changes are made, yes. A employer that has laid someone off can typically expect a higher tax rate in the future. However, employers will not be charged for any of the benefits paid under the CARES Act (PUA, FPUC, PEUC).

Q: Will employers (i.e. park districts) be responsible for the $600 in additional compensation?
 
A: No. The additional $600 per week is 100% federally funded.
 
Q: Will non-profits (i.e. YMCA) who are self-insured regarding unemployment claims receive federal funds to help pay this at a rate of 50%, instead of the full 100% they are generally responsible? If so, how will this work?

A: Yes, so long as the reimbursable employer is chargeable under Illinois law for the claim for during applicable periods, federal funds will contribute 50% of the benefits paid.

If the General Assembly passes legislation non-charging all employers for COVID-19-related unemployment cases, the reimbursable employer will not have to make any reimbursements to the trust fund to pay for the benefits paid.

Q: Can unemployment rates for small businesses be frozen given the current situation?
 
A: IDES does not have the authority to do this; only the General Assembly has the authority to pass legislation effectively insulating employers from rate increases.
Q: Will there be any relief for non-profits, similar to businesses that pay UI tax, whose tax liabilities will be increasing at this time?
 
A: The CARES Act provides for reimbursement of 50% of unemployment benefit costs for governmental and non-profit entities. Additionally, if the General Assembly passes legislation non-charging all employers for COVID-19-related unemployment cases, the reimbursable employer will not have to make any reimbursements to the trust fund to pay for the benefits paid.
 
 
CLAIM STATISTICS AND ECONOMIC INFORMATION
 
 
Q: Is there a breakdown available for the number of applications received by IDES over the past 3 weeks?

A: Claims data is embargoed under federal law until the following Thursday. Below are the most recently available information:
  • 553,270 claims between March 15 and April 4
o Represents 9.1% of employed persons in Illinois
  • 14,716 claims between March 8 and March 14
  • 141,222 claims between March 15 and March 21 (850% increase over prior 2 weeks)
  • 189,663 claims between March 22 and March 28
  • 222,385 claims March 29 to April 4
Sectors with the largest increase in claims March 15 to April 4 include:
 
  • Construction
  • Wholesale trade
  • Temporary help
  • Healthcare offices (doctors and dentists)
  • Childcare
  • Recreation
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Most recent is manufacturing, retail trade, air transportation, trucking, and real estate and leasing
 
IDES STAFFING AND PERFORMANCE

Q: Is the system still being worked on? If so, when is it expected to be fixed? Is it accepting applications at a higher capacity?

A: IDES is constantly monitoring and improving the performance and functions of its IT systems and will continue to do so as the demand for unemployment benefit claims and services remains high due to COVID-19.  While IDES has made significant improvements since the start of this crisis and is much more adept at accepting claims at a higher capacity, IDES’s goal is always to make adjustments as quickly as they are needed due to the unprecedented volume of claims being filed.

Q: What is the status of implementing the “enhanced” unemployment benefits?
 
A: Listed below are steps taken:
 
  • FPUC: Fully implemented. Benefits paid for the first week available under federal law.
  • PEUC: In progress. IDES expects to begin paying PEUC the week of April 20.
  • PUA: In progress. IDES expects to begin paying PUA by May 11. All unemployed or underemployed individuals should file today.
 Q: Have additional staff been hired to address the issues on the IDES website?
 
A: The IDES website and other IT matters are managed by DoIT, which has fully backed the many ongoing IT projects being undertaking by the agency right now to improve and streamline the capabilities of the website.

Q: Is IDES staff working at full capacity, or are some off because of COVID-19?
 
A: IDES’s claims adjudicators are working at full capacity. Some employees are working from
home.
 
Q: Is there a rotation schedule at IDES, allowing for less days to be worked?
 
A: IDES’s claims adjudicators are working at full capacity.
 
Q: Is IDES staff working from home? If so, is their IT capacity lagging?
 
A: Some employees are currently working from home. IDES is working with DoIT to send everyone else home, except certain individuals required to be on-site (e.g., print and mailing services).

Q: Have there been any amendments to their work environment to make it safe for them to physically go to work?

A: IDES offices have been closed to the public since March 17, 2020. IDES offices that are open are practicing social distancing. IDES is working with DoIT to send everyone else home, except certain individuals required to be on-site (e.g., print and mailing services).

Q: Has there been a consideration in hiring a 3rd party temporarily in order to meet the needs of Illinois residents?

A: IDES is working with multiple 3rd parties: Deloitte for creation of a PUA system; Deloitte for temporary staff increases in call center; IBM for additional IT capacity; Application Dynamics for website performance; Google AI, Quantiphi, Carasoft to implement web-bot Artificial Intelligence on the IDES homepage; and Pitney Bowes to meet increased mailing demands.

Q: Has there been collaboration with other states that already have this up and running?
 
A: Yes. IDES staff have existing relationships with their counterparts in other states. We have daily calls among the states to discuss best practices and regular calls with USDOL.



Updates
  • Illinois Department of Public Health:
  • Illinois Department of Employment Security
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IIDs) and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs) https://bit.ly/3aAAWZD
    • Outpatient Settings: FAQs and Considerations https://bit.ly/2waDwGQ
    • Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) Requirements and Implications Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://bit.ly/2yrXxJJ
    • Hospitals, Psychiatric Hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs): FAQs, Considerations for Patient Triage, Placement, Limits to Visitation and Availability of 1135 waivers. https://bit.ly/39E8uVb
    • COVID-19 guidance in dialysis facilities https://bit.ly/2UxNHP2
  • Illinois Department of Transportation message on COVID-19: http://www.idot.illinois.gov/covid19
    • Roads and bridges are open and will stay open
    • Construction projects will remain on schedule
  • Cook County Taxes, Fines and Fees Relief Package https://bit.ly/2xLjrY5
    • Home Rule Taxes: The filing date has been extended to May 1, 2020 for the February and March 2020 tax periods. No penalties or interest will be applied during this extension period
    • Liquor Licenses: Unincorporated Cook County Liquor Licenses expiring April 30, 2020 will be extended until July 31, 2020.
    • Transportation and Highways:
      • Any Right of Way (ROW) Violations will be waived, and only warnings will be issued, through April 30, 2020.
      • Permit fees for any entity seeking a County Highways ROW Permit, excluding utility companies, will be waived through April 30, 2020.
    • Contract Compliance—Certifications Extended:
      • All currently certified Minority/Women/Veteran/Service-Disabled Veteran/Person with Disability owned businesses have the option of having their 2020 renewal dates extended automatically by 6 months with recertification fees waived.
      • Those businesses whose renewal date is in April, May, June and July of 2020 will automatically be extended for 6 months.
  • Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
  • Illinois Department of Agriculture Updates https://bit.ly/3dNNGxS
    • Updates on cannabis application information
    • Solid Mosquito Larvicide Training
    • Winter Blend Fuel Waiver
    • Egg Packaging
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum E-newsletter https://bit.ly/2X0Zp6c
 
Health and Safety Resources
  • Coronavirus hotline (bit.ly/ilcoronavirushotline) – Call the Illinois Department of Public Health Coronavirus Hotline with questions. Health professionals can also use it to report suspected COVID-19 cases: 1-800-889-3931.
  • IDOC COVID-19 Support Line—The Department of Corrections has established a support line for questions regarding COVID-19. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM at 217-558-2200 ext. 7700. Questions can also be emailed to doc.covid@illinois.gov.
  • Insurance questions (bit.ly/ilinsurancequestions) – Dial the Illinois Department of Insurance’s hotline for your COVID-19-related insurance questions: (877) 527-9431.
  • Telemedicine (bit.ly/iltelemedicine) – The state has relaxed rules about the use of telephone and video chat for the delivery of medical advice. If you have private insurance or Medicaid, you may qualify.
  • Mental health help— To access the statewide telehealth programs and the mental health hotline, text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0, or for Spanish, “HABLAR” to the same number: 5-5-2-0-2-0.
  • Virtual Dementia Caregiver Resources (alz.org/COVID19)—If your loved one with dementia is in an assisted living facility and visitation is not allowed during the COVID-19 outbreak, ask the facility how you can connect from a distance. Options include telephone calls, video chats or emails to check in.
  • Cancer Support Line (https://www.cancer.org/about-us/what-we-do/providing-support.html)The American Cancer Society has created an online hub with current and reliable information about COVID-19 and the impact on the cancer community. You can also call 1-800-227-2345.
  • Diabetes questions (diabetes.org/coronavirus) – The American Diabetes Association is providing support and guidance to people with diabetes, who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Access helpful resources, understand your risk, know your legal rights, and connect with community.
  • Senior grocery store hours (bit.ly/ilseniorshopping) – Many grocery stores are offering special hours for seniors and high-risk individuals.  
  • Severe weather resources (bit.ly/ilseverewx) – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service are developing guidelines for severe weather. Check that your community shelter is open on IEMA’s website before you head there to take cover.
 
Resources for families
 
  • Expanded unemployment benefits (bit.ly/ilunemploymentbenefits) – IDES has expanded unemployment benefits to individuals who have lost their jobs temporarily or permanently due to coronavirus. This includes employees who must isolate themselves but who do not have paid medical leave. It does not include anyone who voluntarily quits for any reason – including to care for their children. For more information call 1-800-244-5631 or visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security's website (https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx).
  • Tax deadline extended (bit.ly/iltaxdeadline) – Illinois income tax filing deadline has been pushed back to July 15, to correspond with the extended federal deadline.    
  • Moratorium on evictions (bit.ly/ilevictionmoratorium)– Effective March 21-April 30.  
  • Moratorium on vehicle repossessions (bit.ly/ilrepomoratorium) – Effective during the governor’s disaster declaration.
  • Moratorium on HUD-insured mortgage foreclosures and evictions   (bit.ly/hudmortgagemoratorium) – In place through April 30. Only applies to single-family homes.
  • FannieMae mortgage assistance (bit.ly/fanniemaeassistance) – FannieMae is offering a 12-month forbearance and other payment options for mortgages it services.   
  • Freddie Mac mortgage assistance (bit.ly/freddiemacassistance) – Freddie Mac is halting all foreclosures and evictions on loans it services until at least May 17. It is also offering 12-month forbearances and other payment options.
  • Childcare assistance locator (bit.ly/childcareassistancelocator) – With many child care centers closed, essential workers may need to locate new providers. There is also a toll-free helpline available at 888-228-1146.
  • Student loan collections (bit.ly/studentloaninterestpdf) – The federal government has reduced interest rates to 0% and suspended collections until September 30. https://www.inccrra.org/about/sdasearch
  • Reporting price gouging and scams (bit.ly/ilattorneygeneral) – The attorney general’s office is investigating reports of price gouging: https://ccformsubmission.ilattorneygeneral.net/  
  • Utilities (bit.ly/utilitiesil) – The ICC has banned disconnections during the crisis and assessing late fees through at least May 1. Some internet service providers have also made accommodations:
    • Xfinity/Comcast (comca.st/xfinityassistance) – Disconnections are suspended through at least May 1. New late fees will also be waived and data caps lifted. Its Wi-fi hotspots will be made available to the public for free, and it is offered new $10/month plans for new customers.
    • AT&T (soc.att.com/attcovid19) – See Xfinity/Comcast. It is offering roughly the same benefits. 
    • Spectrum Internet (bit.ly/spectrumcovid19) – Offering free internet for two months to new customers with K-12 or college students. Its Wi-fi hotspots will be made available to the public for free.
    • Viasat Internet (https://corpblog.viasat.com/covid-19/) – Similar to Comcast and AT&T but not offering new plans.
    • Civil legal aid (Bit.ly/ilcivillegalaid) – Families experiencing legal issues who cannot afford an attorney may be able to find help.
Closures
Businesses
  • Dentists (Bit.ly/ildentists) – The Illinois Dental Association recommends members cancel all non-emergency appointments through April 30.
  • Restaurants (bit.ly/ilrestaurants) – Ordered not to have dine-in guests through April 30. Delivery, curbside pick-up and drive-through sales are still allowed. Carry out is permitted if social distancing is practiced.
  • Bars (bit.ly/illinoisbars) – Ordered closed through April 30. Some breweries and wineries are seeking opportunities to continue sales of closed liquor packages (bottles of wine, cans of beer, etc.).
  • Events (bit.ly/illinoisevents) – Events that serve more than 10 people or occur in a non-essential setting are banned March 21-April 30. Events serving more than 50 people banned from March 18. Events serving more than 1,000 people were banned from March 12 to April 11. FAQ about the stay-at-home order are available here: bit.ly/ilstayathomefaqs
Education
  • Public schools (bit.ly/ilschools) – Ordered closed through April 30. Grab-and-go meals are available for students who need them statewide, and some schools are even offering delivery. Many restaurants are also offering free meals to children who need them. CPS is offering free boxes of food with three days' worth of meals for every child in a household available for pick up on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Private schools (bit.ly/ilprivateschools) – Ordered closed through April 30.
  • Most colleges and universities (including all state public universities) (bit.ly/ilcolleges) – All in-person classes canceled.
 
Government services
  • Driver’s services facilities (bit.ly/ildmv) – Closed through April 30. Any licenses, IDs, registrations that expire during this period are automatically extended by 30 days. The federal government also extended the deadline to begin requiring a REAL ID or passport to board a plane, originally set for October 1, 2020.
  • Vehicle emissions testing stations (bit.ly/ilemissionstest) – Closed through April 30. Due dates for inspections are extended in relation with vehicle registration extensions.
  • Family and Community Resource Centers (bit.ly/ildhsfcrc) – All but 14 of the IDHS FCRCs are closed, where people can apply for SNAP and other need-based assistance. Waits may be longer than usual for guests who visit in person. Online applications (bit.ly/ilfcrcapp) will still be processed, and IDHS’s call center is still open: 1-800-843-6154.
  • Department of Rehabilitation Services local offices (bit.ly/ilrehabservices) – Closed starting March 19. Online applications are still being accepted: DRS.illinois.gov/apply.
  • Cook County circuit trials (bit.ly/cookcountytrials) – Most trials postponed through April 17. Other jurisdictions, including Lake and DuPage Counties are taking similar steps.
 
Help for struggling nonprofit organizations and businesses
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois offering grant to non-profit organizations: Non-profits focused on access to health care, hunger and shelter can apply. The deadline is April 24. Learn more here: http://spr.ly/61861FQEC
  • Nicor Gas offering help to non-profit organizations:
    • Submit a contribution request through their website:  https://www.nicorgas.com/company/about-us/philanthropy/charitable-giving.html.
      • A brief background of the organization (two pages or less) and its Board membership list.
      • The organization's mission statement.
      • A legible and most recent copy of the organization's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt letter.
      • A clear statement of the project for which funds are needed.
      • The amount the organization requests for the project.
      • Sources of other support for the project and current financial statement of the organization.
  • Illinois Small Business Emergency Loans (https://bit.ly/bizloanfund) – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation established the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to struggling small businesses. Chicago is offering a similar program (bit.ly/chibizresiliencyfund) for businesses located in the city.
  • Small business loans (bit.ly/ussmallbizloan) – The U.S. Small Business Administration is extending assistance loans to struggling businesses.
  • Small business disaster assistance loans (bit.ly/bizdisasterassistance) – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million.
  • Low-interest loans (bit.ly/lowinterestloan) – Backed by the Illinois treasury, banks and credit unions throughout Illinois are offering low-interest loans to businesses that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Sales tax deferment (bit.ly/salestaxdeferment)– Small- and mid-sized restaurants and bars will be able to defer sales tax payments for February, March, and April.
  • Cannabis business license applications (bit.ly/cannabislicenseapps) – IDFPR is accepting applications through certified mail, rather than in person.
  • Automatic license extensions (bit.ly/IDFPRlicenses) – IDFPR is automatically renewing all licenses that would normally expire between March 1 and July 31 until September 30. Continuing education that would normally be required to be completed in person can also be done online. The governor has issued executive orders that provide similar opportunities to cannabis businesses, private security and fingerprint vendors.
  • Online massage therapy and cosmetology school courses (bit.ly/ilmassagecosmetology) – IDFPR is allowing these schools to offer more than 10% of their courses online until July 31.
  • Expedited Critical Access Pharmacy Payments (bit.ly/ilpharmacypayments) – Comptroller Susana Mendoza expedited payments to pharmacies in underserved rural communities.
  • Online notary services (bit.ly/ilnotary) – Notaries are allowed to work online using two-way videos while the governor’s disaster declaration is in effect.
 
 
How you can help
  • Volunteering (https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/serve/Pages/default.aspx)– Volunteers are needed during the pandemic. Serve Illinois is working to connect volunteers to organizations that need help. 
  • Blood donation (https://www.redcross.org/) – The crisis has caused many blood drives to be cancelled, so there is a great need for blood throughout the state. Consider donating to your local blood bank.
  • Food bank donations (https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank )– With many people out of work, food banks are seeing a drastic increase in need for food assistance. Consider donating to your local food bank to help struggling families during this difficult time.
  • Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (https://www.ilcovidresponsefund.org/) – The state is collecting donations to help Illinois not-for-profits that are serving essential human services needs during the pandemic.
  • Former health care professionals (Bit.ly/ilformerhealthprofessionals) – Illinois is requesting the help of former health care professionals during this crisis. Licensing requirements have been modified to make returning to the field easier. 
  • Health care professional notification (https://www.illinoishelps.net/) – The state developed a new website to more easily alert and activate medical professionals in the event of disasters and public health emergencies. All medical professionals are encouraged to register.
  • Donations of protective equipment (bit.ly/ilppe) – Illinois is accepting donations of unopened equipment, like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to ensure adequate supply during shortages.
 
 


Tips on how to manage your cabin fever


Many individuals are suffering from a bit of cabin fever these days. Besides eating healthy, exercising, and practicing the “Stop the Spread” of COVID-19, here are a few things you can do to help alleviate the cabin fever blues.
 
Keep your mind active. Read books, learn a new language, catch up on the latest in medical news and research that you may have been neglecting, or that stack of medical journals on your desk that have been collecting dust.

Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoorsAccording to a recent study, people who spend at least 2 hours per week outdoors are more likely to report that they are in good health both physically and psychologically.

Stay in touch while social distancing. Get in touch with friends, family, and colleagues you may have lost touch with via phone call, email, or Skype/Facetime. This can help fight feelings of depression, helplessness, and reduce your stress levels.

Start writing that book or memoir you’ve always wanted to write. Sit down and put pen to paper or start typing on your laptop. Think of how interesting and important logging your daily efforts in caring for patients with COVID-19 will be to read in the future. For both yourself and others. Writing down your impressions and feelings and logging your efforts can help you process your thoughts and emotions more efficiently and reduce your stress levels.

Write new business plans:  Did you know that the famous Toll House chocolate chip cookie was invented during the Great Depression?  That’s right, In 1933, Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass., invented one of our most loved comfort foods. Her “butter drop do” cookie recipe, called for baker's chocolate, which Wakefield didn't have on hand.  Take a few minutes to write your vision and business plan, so that when this whole ordeal subsides, you will be ready to start your own opportunity.

Meditation and Prayer:  One of the best things you can do is relax your mind through prayer and meditation. It alleviates stress, while also providing you an opportunity to clear your mind to further develop your new business ideas.
Join Us  on MONDAYS for Constituent Night!

I, State Representative Camille Y. Lilly, enjoy meeting with the constituents of the 78th District on Mondays for Constituent Night from 5-8p.m. at the district office located at 6937 W. North Ave.  Please call the district office for an appointment/questions at 773-473-7300 or email us at StateRepCamilleYLilly@gmail.com.

Hope to See You Soon!
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Honored to S.E.R.V.E. – Serving Every Residents Vision Equally
Chicago ● Elmwood Park ● Melrose Park ● Franklin Park ● Oak Park ● River Grove


6937 W. North Ave
Oak Park, IL 60302
773-473-7300

708-613-5939
 






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State Representative Camille Y. Lilly · 6937 W. North Ave · Oak Park, IL 60302 · USA