Thank you to everyone who is helping curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) by following your common sense, washing your hands and frequently touched surfaces, and doing your part with social distancing.
Due to your efforts, while the numbers of those infected by the coronavirus appear to be stabilizing, the numbers of those unemployed due to this insidious virus has been staggering.
On April 10, I called on the Governor to fix the unemployment fiasco. Since that time, Minority Leaders Durkin and Senator Brady have made it known that this was an avoidable situation had Governor Pritzker taken the steps necessary to modernize the system for the year and half since he has been in office, along with focusing the necessary resources in anticipation of the known job loss effects Pritzker’s shut down order would have.
I also filed legislation to establish guidelines to provide property tax relief for Illinoisan’s during public health emergencies, such as the coronavirus we are currently experiencing. Families ordered to stay at home have enough to worry about. Property taxes should be the last item to burden residents during this or any other time of a public health emergency.
The legislation provides that if a disaster is declared by the Governor for all counties in the State due to a public health emergency, then the due date for the first installment of property taxes for that year shall be delayed by 90 days, and no penalties or interest shall be accrued during that extension.
While I am ready and willing to return to Springfield to conduct the people’s business and participate in these decisions, leadership has chosen not to do so. My prayers continue to be with you and your loved ones. Together, we are winning this battle against our invisible enemy.
Unemployment Claims Information
While there continue to be issues with the electronic system handling the increased volume of activity, IDES (the Illinois Department of Employment Security) has upgraded the system to handle more applications and implemented an alternating online schedule based on the first letter of your last name:
Online Filing Schedule:
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M can file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z are asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, or Fridays.
- Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
If you do not have access to the internet, the call center filing schedule is:
Call Center Filing Schedule:
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
- Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.
Note: The days in which you can file a claim may be different from the days in which you are asked to certify.
Online filing and claims applications will be unavailable every night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. for daily claims processing.
Bill Deferment Programs Available to Illinoisans
COVID-19, and the ensuing lockdown, has created a crisis in Illinois. This economic hardship caused by this virus is impacting employees and employers hard. The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security is being inundated with claims, and residents are finding themselves without access to their unemployment benefits. Even those receiving benefits are finding out that those benefits are not enough to meet their basic needs and pay their monthly bills. These individuals are going to be making tough financial decisions.
Companies across the United States and Illinois are voluntarily or mandatorily offering bill deferment programs, and below is a compiled list of companies that are doing so. No one should be embarrassed to be facing economic challenges – especially during these unprecedented times. The last thing any of us want to do is to admit that we are in trouble or vulnerable, but these businesses are understanding of the economic realities and want to work with residents during this time.
If you are facing a tough economic decision, please know that you are not the only one, and there are programs out there to help. Below is a list of some of the programs available:
The IL Commerce Commission (ICC) ordered that each Illinois gas, electric distribution, water, and sewer utility shall design and implement on a temporary basis more flexible credit and collections procedures and file them for consideration and approval to ensure that customers remain connected to essential utility services when the emergency status ends.
Ameren will continue normal billing for power usage, but to help, they are forgiving late payment fees for both residential and business customers. All disconnections have been temporarily suspended until further notice. For more information, click here.
Given the importance of personal hygiene in preventing the spread of coronavirus, American Water has suspended billing related service shut offs. Additionally, they are turning water service back on for customers who were previously shut-off for non-payment. For more info click here.
Local Water Utilities
If you feel you may be unable to pay your water bill or any other utility, contact your local provider or your municipality to defer your payment. It is important to contact your utility provider and work with them.
People’s gas is not disconnecting customer’s service for non-payment. Click the following links to get help with payment arrangements for home or business. They are also working to connect customers with organizations that can help provide payment assistance.
Nicor is voluntarily suspending service disconnections and waiving late payment charges until at least May 1. In the meantime, they are reminding customers to visit nicorgas.com to learn more about financial assistance or payment programs available. Visit Nicor’s billing page for more info.
LIHEAP is one resource that can be used by customers facing a hardship. LIHEAP funds do not need to be paid back.
In order to help with propane bills, the LIHEAP application period has been extended until June 30,2020, or until funding is exhausted. Residents can contact their local propane tank provider if they are unable to pay their current bill to work out a potential payment plan.
Cell Phone Carriers
The four biggest carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon—have all committed to not cutting off customers who can’t pay their bill because of this crisis and waiving late fees. They have also implemented a number of policies that help customers stay connected to loved ones, work, and school. Residents having trouble paying their bill should contact them to get their payment deferred:
Internet Providers are offering free access to WiFi hot spots for everyone, including non-subscribers, for 60 days. They are also providing more data to customers for no extra charge and are not disconnecting internet service or charging late fees for customers who say they cannot pay their bills. Please contact your provider if you need more assistance:
Home Mortgage Forbearance
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided the option of mortgage forbearance to homeowners with federally backed mortgages. Homeowners can request a forbearance period of six months, and they have the option to extend it another six months. The program is NOT automatic, and the onus is on the borrowers to ask be placed in forbearance. Each lender has implemented a slightly different program. For more information, borrowers should contact their lender
For federal student loans, payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. No new payment will be due until after September 30. Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which temporarily stops monthly loan payments. This suspension of payments will last until Sept. 30, 2020, but borrowers can still make payments if they choose. Interest on student loans is also not accruing during that time. For more information about Student Loans click here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a number of loan programs designed to help assist small businesses succeed pre and post COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The loan program provides small businesses (typically businesses with fewer than 500 employees) with working capital loans of up to $2 million with a loan advance of up to $10,000.
Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program
The loan program allows small businesses that currently have a relationship with a SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 in loans to bridge the gap while waiting for Economic Injury Disaster Loan dollars.
Paycheck Protection Program Loans-Suspended due to lack of funds! Call your Congressional Representative!
This program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses and authorized up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. Under this program:
Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
Please contact your local U.S. Congressional Representative and tell them to approve additional funding for this critical program without partisan strings attached! Small businesses need these funds now!
My office remains active to assist you with any issues you encounter. Please call 815-893-4884 or email email@example.com. Stay healthy!