Illinois is working on restoring unemployment benefits to nearly 450,000 people whose benefits expired temporarily after President Donald Trump delayed signing a $900 billion coronavirus relief package.
Roughly 447,500 Illinoisans were at risk of losing jobless benefits entirely when multiple federal programs tied to the $2.2 trillion stimulus package from last spring expired Dec. 26, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
While it’s unclear when benefits will be restored in Illinois, state and federal labor officials say people will be paid for the end of December, even though the bill extending federal pandemic unemployment programs was not signed until Sunday, the day after benefits expired.
Here’s the latest on what the stimulus package means for unemployed Illinoisans.
Lapsed benefits will be paid
The state is waiting on guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on how to reinstate and implement the federal programs, but plans to pay any missed benefits retroactively, spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco said.
The U.S. Department of Labor said in a statement Tuesday most programs will remain unchanged, but it will deliver guidance to help states implement new programs “in the near future.”
“As states are implementing these new provisions as quickly as possible, the Department does not anticipate that eligible claimants will miss a week of benefits due to the timing of the law’s enactment,” the statement said.
Extra $300 in weekly benefits
The state will pay out an enhanced federal jobless benefit of $300 per week for up to 11 weeks under the new relief package for anyone eligible for an underlying unemployment compensation benefit.
That is half the amount of the extra $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits most Americans received from the last stimulus package. Those payments expired in late July.
Extension of jobless aid programs
People who exhausted their 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits were eligible to receive up to 13 additional weeks of federal benefits under the pandemic relief package passed in the spring.
Congress has extended that program for 11 weeks, and allowed states to continue paying benefits through April 5 for those who haven’t reached the maximum number of weeks. The program, known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, will close to new applicants March 14.
The legislation also continues funding the state’s extended benefits program, which provides up to 20 weeks of benefits during high times of unemployment for people who have exhausted all other programs. The program had been set to reduce to 13 weeks when other federal programs expired Dec. 26, but the legislation means people will be eligible for up to 20 weeks.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig and self employed workers was also extended and now provides up to 50 weeks of benefits, up from 39 weeks. The program closes to new applicants March 14, and will pay benefits through April 5.
New program for mixed-income workers
As part of the latest legislation, Illinois will set up a new program allowing mixed-income earners, who are self-employed and also earn some regular wages, to apply to federal programs. Previously, those types of workers were only eligible to receive regular state benefits.