Pritzker waives unemployment wait period as Illinois surpasses 3,000 COVID-19 deaths

May 7, 2020


The state of Illinois exceeded 3,000 deaths stemming from the novel coronavirus COVID-19, according to Illinois Director of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike. Over the past 24 hours, Illinois health officials reported 2,581 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 deaths related to the virus, raising state totals to 70, 873 and 3,111, respectively.

In response the growing number of cases in Illinois, Ezike implored Illinoisans to exercise caution over Mother’s Day weekend.

“We are still fighting this invisible enemy and we must take measures to reduce its spread,” said Ezike. “Please, let’s honor our elderly mothers and grandmothers this Mother’s Day by keeping them safe. To do that, please stay at home, please wear your face covering, please wash your hand frequently.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced Illinois’ plan to expedite unemployment benefits. According to Pritzker, 1,000 new agents at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will help assist the distribution of unemployment benefits.

The announcement follows an IDES report that disclosed over 1 million unemployment claims since March 1.

Pritzker cited novel voice agents and accelerated webpage downloads as resources capable of easing the unemployment claim process.  The Illinois governor also championed the efficiency of unemployment benefits for “clean claims.”

“As a result of these improvements, IDES is now paying unemployment benefits in a timely manner to 99.9% of clean claims,” said Pritzker.

An executive order issued by Pritzker also waives the traditional one-week wait period between unemployment claims and the collection of benefits. Pritzker says the order allows claimants to receive two weeks worth of unemployment benefits within the first week rather than one week’s worth.

On Monday, IDES is scheduled to begin processing claims for 1099 workers, according to Pritzker, including contractors, sole proprietors and self-employed individuals. The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) allows 39 weeks of unemployment benefits backdated to the first week of unemployment.

“Unemployed individuals who qualify can begin the filing process even now instead of waiting until Monday and I encourage you to do so,” said Pritzker.

Federal guidelines mandate that unemployed workers must first apply for traditional unemployment, which Pritzker states will likely result in denial. Workers denied for traditional employment will then be redirected to apply to PUA benefits.

“That denial for regular unemployment benefits is a mandatory first step in determining PUA eligibility according to the federal government,” said Pritzker. During the process of filing for unemployment, claimants also elect which manner they prefer to receive their benefits.

Read more by Matthew Rago:

Pritzker announces five-step ‘Reopen Illinois’ plan; ‘We are very conscientious that there are people who cannot pay their bills and cannot provide for their families’


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