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NOTE: Once the unemployment assistance from the most recent federal stimulus package (called the CARES Act) is implemented in Illinois, individuals receiving unemployment benefits will receive an additional $600 each week above what they would receive in regular unemployment benefits until July 31, 2020. In many cases, individuals will also be eligible for more weeks of unemployment above the 26 weeks provided under regular unemployment rules. For current recipients of unemployment benefits, and those who have recently submitted applications, these benefits will be applied automatically if you qualify. New applicants will be considered for the expanded benefits; and, those who have exhausted their regular 26 weeks will be able to apply for additional weeks of benefits. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has issued only limited guidance on the expanded benefits (view here). PDC 30 will be updating its guidance on unemployment benefits shortly and will notify members of this update through Facebook and text message. For now, if you planned to apply for unemployment benefits, follow the guidance below for now.
If your unemployment is a result of Coronavirus/COVID-19 work stoppages, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits. The State of Illinois has modified rules to help more people whose ability to work is compromised by the coronavirus. PDC 30 has no role in determining your eligibility for such benefits; however, PDC 30 staff has been carefully reviewing eligibility rules for unemployment insurance and participating in state dialogue with other trade unions. PDC 30 will report any changes to eligibility rules that occur, and staff will respond to any concerns you have about qualifying for such benefits.
Unemployment insurance is a state-operated insurance program administered by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work. The program ensures that, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you will have some income while you are looking for a job, up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a one-year period, depending on when the claim was established. As the crisis continues, future state and/or federal legislation may extend the maximum number of weeks; but, for now, it is 26.
Changes made to the program since the start of the coronavirus crisis signal a strong desire on the part of the State of Illinois to make certain people whose ability to work is compromised by the coronavirus/COVID-19 qualify for unemployment benefits. Individuals in the following situations will likely be deemed eligible for some amount of unemployment benefits:
- If you are temporarily laid off because the place where you work is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus.
- If you are confined to your home 1) because a licensed physician has diagnosed you as having COVID-19 or 2) because you must stay home to care for your spouse, parent or child, whom a medical professional has diagnosed as having COVID-19 or 3) because of a government-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.
- If you leave work because your child’s school has temporarily closed, and you feel you have to stay home with your child.
At this time, if you quit your job because you are generally concerned over coronavirus, whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits is not clear. As you will learn on the IDES webpage, an individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had good cause for quitting. If your employer, for example, is unable to provide safety equipment needed to perform the work in an appropriate and safe manner, or so that members could following CDC coronavirus/COVID-19 guidelines, the IDES may consider you eligible under existing rules. If you believe you have good cause for quitting due to coronavirus, please contact PDC 30 at 630-377-2120. PDC 30 may be able to take actions to correct the workplace situation or document your concerns, which may become useful when you apply for unemployment benefits.
The IDES has a detailed explanation of who is eligible when loss of work is due to coronavirus. This guidance will likely be updated as the IDES addresses claims for benefits and learns more about situations causing Illinois residents to lose work due to this public health crisis. Link here to read the IDES explanation.
What if Your Employer Says You Won’t Be Eligible?
Some employers may implement “paid leave” in order to retain their workforce during the crisis. Federal crisis relief measures provide employers some incentives to retain their workers. However, if your employer is unable to provide sufficient work for you due to the crisis, or you believe you must stop working due to the crisis, and your employer is telling you that you won’t be eligible, you should either apply and let IDES determine your eligibility, and/or contact PDC 30 at 630-377-2120. Employers do not decide eligibility for unemployment benefits. They may “protest” an application you make for benefits, but the IDES determines whether you are eligible based on a variety of information. If you have been told by your employer that you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits, and you believe you should be and may wish to apply for such benefits, you should either apply and let the IDES determine your eligibility, and/or contact PDC 30 at 630-377-2120.
Some Other Important Things to Consider:
The one-week rule: under traditional unemployment insurance rules, an individual who qualifies for unemployment benefits would have had to experience a one week “waiting period” before receiving unemployment benefits. In light of coronavirus, this rule has been suspended. This means your first unemployment benefit payment may cover more of the time you were unemployed or underemployed.
When to apply: The IDES will process unemployment applications in the order they are received, so you are encouraged to file a claim for unemployment benefits as your employment status changes. Generally, PDC 30 believes, if you are working less than 8 hours per week because of reduced hours due to coronavirus, you should consider filing for unemployment benefits.
Role of the employer: If you are laid off, or otherwise told there isn’t enough work to keep you employed because of reduced work opportunities in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, and your employer is not making clear that such actions are due to coronavirus, or when you might expect to be recalled, contact PDC 30 at 630-377-2120. PDC 30 will assist you in seeking such clarification.
Looking for work requirement: When your unemployment is certified and you continue to receive unemployment benefits, it is normally required that you establish that you are actively seeking work. Among several changes introduced emergency rules by the Governor (March 13, 2020), and how those rules are being applied, what constitutes “looking for work” includes union workers calling into their union halls. At this time, PDC 30 believes you may use the PDC 30 Out-of-Work list (accessible on PDC 30’s homepage at www.pdc30.com) to accomplish this task – See below, “Register with PDC 30 that You are Out of Work.”
Applying for Unemployment Benefits:
To apply online for unemployment benefits in the State of Illinois, connect to the IDES application page here. You will be prompted to create an account and will want to keep your username and password on file as you will need to log in periodically if your unemployment continues beyond one week.
Information needed to file an application online:
- Your Social Security number and name as it appears on your Social Security card;
- Your Driver License / State ID (this will provide your weight, which is required);
- If claiming your spouse or child as a dependent, the Social Security number, date of birth and name(s) of dependent(s);
- Name, mailing address, phone number, employment dates, and separation reason for all the employers you worked for in the last 18 months;
- Wage records (W-2 form, check stubs, etc.) from these employers may be necessary.
- If you worked since Sunday of this week, the gross wages earned this week (see note below);
- You must report all gross wages for any work performed, full or part-time;
- Gross means the total amount earned before deductions, not "take home pay," including wages in the form of lodging, meals, merchandise or any other form;
- Gross wages must be reported the week in which they are earned, not the week in which you receive the wages;
- If your gross wages earned in any week are less than your weekly benefit amount, you still may be eligible to receive a full or partial benefit payment;
- Records of any pension payments you are receiving (not including Social Security);
- If you are not a United States citizen, your Alien Registration information;
- If you are a recently separated veteran, the Member 4 Copy of the DD form 214 / 215;
- Other copies of the DD Form 214 / 215 are acceptable, but the Member 4 copy is the most commonly available.
- If you are separated from work as a civilian employee of the federal government, copies of your Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50.
NOTE: Any Weekly Benefit Amount you might receive in unemployment benefits is calculated according to a formula that looks at your earnings over a one-year calendar period. Particularly, the formula considers your earnings during your two highest earning quarters over the period of the prior four completed quarters. Your most recent earning levels will not be used to determine your Weekly Benefit Amount. Answer questions about your gross wages prior to a layoff as best you can.
If you are an apprentice enrolled at the North Central Illinois Finishing Trades Institute (NCIFTI), DO NOT indicate in your application that you are a student. Your enrollment at the NCIFTI is considered a mandatory condition of your employment. The IDES claim filing application will ask you if you are a student. Although you are, in fact, a student of the NCIFTI, and your participation in the NCIFTI program is a mandatory condition of your employment, you should answer NO to the question for the purpose of determining eligibility by IDES to receive unemployment benefits.
Legal Permanent Residents and DACA Recipients:
Legal Permanent Residents and individuals with work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have the same eligibility for unemployment benefits as U.S. Citizens.
Register with PDC 30 that You are Out of Work:
If you are out of work due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, please contact PDC 30 to report your work status at 630-377-2120 and add your name to PDC 30’s Out-of-Work list at www.pdc30.com (a link to the list is on the homepage; you can also reach it by logging in; contact PDC 30 – at 630-377-2120 – for username and password if you do not already have it). When you answer “Who was your last employer?,” please also include the average number of hours you worked per week in the last month for this employer.
If you wish to contact the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union, email messages may be sent through the Directory (under “Locals”) at www.pdc30.com, or you may contact the District Council at 630-377-2120. The PDC 30 website can be found at www.pdc30.com.
Receiving Unemployment Benefits:
Once your unemployment benefits have been approved, you should expect to receive your benefits within two to three business days. This timeframe may be slowed due to the volume of unemployment benefit applications that the IDES is processing due to the significant increase in unemployment benefit applications resulting from the pandemic.
There are two primary ways to receive unemployment benefits:
- You can provide your bank account information to the IDES and the funds will be directly deposited into your bank account.
- You can have your unemployment benefits deposited onto an IDES prepaid debit card. There are fees associated with the utilization of the IDES prepaid debit program if you choose this method of delivery of your unemployment benefit.
If you have questions about your application or need additional information regarding your eligibility for unemployment benefits, please contact the IDES at: 1-800-244-5631. PDC 30 and other trade unions have been told that it is best for applicants to complete applications online during high volume periods. There is an “adjudication” process when case-specific circumstances are considered, during which the IDES may contact you with questions and you will have an opportunity to explain any unique circumstances.
PDC 30 representatives may be able to answer some of your questions prior to you filing an application, particularly if those question relate to what you are learning from your employer. However, you should not wait to speak to a PDC 30 representative before applying for unemployment benefits.