COVID-19 FAQ and Resources
What is going on with work requirements for SNAP and other public benefits?
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to work requirements.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. It completely suspends SNAP work requirements beginning next month and through the end of the month after the “public health emergency” declaration is lifted. This means that none of the months that an ABAWD receives benefits during this emergency period counts against their time limits. To be clear, this also suspends the work requirement currently in place in Cook and DuPage Counties.
- A judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case that several states filed to halt the implementation of the new rule change for the ABAWD work requirement that was set to go into effect on April 1. The rule change is now delayed from taking effect until further notice. This means that no new counties should have to implement ABAWD work requirements in Illinois. However, this alone does not affect the work requirement in Cook County. The Trump administration is appealing this decision.
- Advocates are working closely IDHS to ensure everyone who needs food assistance during this crisis can get it. If you have questions or concerns about access to SNAP or other public benefits during this crisis, contact Mari: email@example.com.
Who is eligible for unemployment? What are the changes to unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois?
Expanded eligibility in Illinois
- To apply for UI or to see if you’re eligible, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx
- IDES has adopted emergency rules to make UI more responsive to the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus. For the duration of this public health emergency, you’re considered to be “actively seeking work” if you are temporarily laid off from your place of work but are ready to return as soon as your employer has reopened. Under new emergency rules, you are not required to register for work if it’s a temporary layoff resulting from the COVID-19 virus.
- If you’re staying home due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, are caring for someone who has been diagnosed, or are quarantined based on government advice, you are also considered eligible as long as you are actively seeking work from the confines of your home.
- Staying home to be with your children while school is temporarily closed is not considered unemployment at no fault of your own. As a result, you would not be eligible for benefits.
- At this point in time, UI benefits will not be expanded beyond the normal 26 weeks’ worth of benefits per year.
- You can also find the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook here.
Are people in transitional jobs programs eligible for UI?
- If an organization that runs a transitional jobs program does not pay into state or federal uninsurance for the transitional jobs, that job is considered “uninsured” and thus the worker would not qualify for UI. Furthermore, in order to qualify under current state guidelines for UI, a person would have to earn at least $1600 in because many transitional jobs programs are short term and may not earn enough during a base wage period ($1600 in Illinois) it’s possible that many transitional jobs placements might not qualify under current state guidelines for UI.
- If you have additional questions or information about this, feel free to contact Mari: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What paid sick leave policies are currently in place that can support sick workers or workers who have to care for sick loved ones?
The answer to this question depends on where the worker works, since unfortunately, the United States does not have a Universal Paid Sick Leave policy.
City of Chicago
- The City of Chicago has a paid sick leave policy where all workers are required to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked with up to 40 total hours in a 12-month period. Sick leave may be used by employees to care for themselves or their family members when they are sick or to receive medical care, or if the employee or family member is the victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse. In general, all employers in Chicago must comply with the paid sick leave law, and it applies to every employee who works at least 2 hours for an employer within a two week period.
- Cook County also has a paid sick leave policy which is very similar to Chicago’s. However, around 80% of municipalities have opted out of the policy, so it is not available everywhere.
- Illinois currently has legislation pending that would put paid sick leave in place across the state. You can take action in support of that urgent legislation here.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. It includes:
- Two weeks (or 10 work days) of emergency paid sick leave, but only for workers at businesses with 500 employees or fewer (healthcare providers and emergency responders are exempted, and businesses with 50 or fewer employees may also be exempt) who are unable to work or telework.
- These provisions would “sunset” at the end of the year.
- Read more from the National Law Review.
What do we do if we provide services through government contracts?
- Department of Labor Funding
- American Job Centers will be closed to the public until further notice. Many workforce service providers are closing offices, moving to remote work, and adapting remote learning technologie to continue working with job seekers if they can. The local workforce areas are working hard to seek maximum flexibility for what will almost certainly be changes to enrollment numbers and outcome measures. If you receive WIOA funding, rely on your local workforce area to provide detailed instructions.
- The United States Department of Labor released $100 million in new emergency grants to serve dislocated workers. Learn more here.
- If you have specific questions for IDHS you can submit them here, where they will be aggregated by IL Partners for Human Services and sent to IDHS.
- IDHS Secretary Grace Hou shared the following update for agencies who receive IDHS funding:
- Department of Labor Funding
- “You will not be financially penalized if you slow or stop services during this emergency. Community-based human service providers will be held harmless and kept whole as operations are diminished or temporarily suspended during this national and state emergency. Specifically:
- From today through mid-April (and longer as needed), in the event fee-for-service billings are less than normal, IDHS is committed to providing capacity grant funding to make up the lost revenues from reduced billings to ensure the preservation of Illinois’ social services delivery system and safety net.
- In the event grant programs (fixed rate and expense-based) are asked to (or decide to) close temporarily, in response to COVID-19, IDHS will continue to fund operations.
- Critically: staff who work for your organizations should continue to be paid.
- Likewise, organizations taking on increased public responsibility during this time may receive additional funding commensurate with the temporary reorganization of services. On a limited basis, going forward, existing contracts may be amended to account for increasing needs for services on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your program liaisons for more information.
- Every effort will be made by IDHS to continue the critical mission of our social service system.”
Are there any emergency resources available for service providers who have increased demand for services during this time?
- The City of Chicago, Chicago Community Trust, and United Way of Metro Chicago are coordinating an Emergency Response Fund where service providers can apply for support. To learn more, visit: https://www.chicagocovid19responsefund.org/#faq
What resources are available for people who are experiencing financial crises at this time?
- Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
- City of Chicago official updates
- Chicago Emergency Rental Assistance
- Chicago Service Relief
- Community organizing resource to offer/ask for needed supports from other community members
- Emergency Food Resources
- Guidance from Chicago Dept of Public Health for Business and Employers
- Housing Action Illinois: Information & Resources on COVID-19 for Housing & Homelessness Professionals
- Summary of Community Emergency Response Resources
What relief, if any, can we expect from vehicle ticketing and debt collections right now?
City of Chicago (Effective through April 30)
- Non-safety ticketing is suspended
- Tickets will not double
- Unpaid payment plans will not go into default
- Debts will not be referred to collections
- Booting is suspended, and the City is removing all boots
- Towing and Impounding for debt collection is suspended. Safety related towing will continue.
- Ride-hail drivers (such as Uber and Lyft) will not be deactivated or banned for ticket debts
- No new license suspension requests for red light or speed camera tickets (unlike parking ticket suspensions, these suspensions were not eliminated by the License to Work Act)
- Read more from the Mayor’s press release
If you have additional questions or know of resources that we should list here, please contact Mari Castaldi: email@example.com .