Help for Individuals

Our office is here to serve you. If you need help on any issue involving the federal government, including Medicare, Social Security, Small Business Administration, State Department, Internal Revenue Service, Veterans Affairs, Immigration, or more, please get in touch by calling (847) 383-4870 or submitting a casework request.
 

Direct Assistance Payments - “Stimulus Checks” 

The third coronavirus response bill passed on March 27, 2020 includes direct assistance payments to most Americans. 

The amount of the rebate depends on family size. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers). 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver rebates quickly in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later.\ 

There is no earned income requirement to be eligible for a rebate, but some non-filers may need to take additional steps to receive their rebates. The Social Security Administration will share information for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries with IRS to help ensure these beneficiaries receive an automatic advance payment. The IRS will conduct a public awareness campaign to reach other non-filers and provide them with information on how they can access rebates. 

Frequently Asked Questions/Preguntas Frecuentes:

 

Unemployment Insurance 

The federal government recently enacted legislation to address the dramatic economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, including an unemployment benefits expansion. While this will financially help unemployed Illinoisans in the months to come, not everyone will be eligible for all the benefits contained in the package, and some benefits will not begin immediately.

Unemployment Insurance is administered at the state-level by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)Illinois residents should apply at: IDES.Illinois.gov 

In order to process the extremely high volume of unemployment benefit claims due to COVID-19, IDES has implemented the following schedule for those filing claims online and over the phone: 

Online Filing Schedule: 

  • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. 

  • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays. 

  • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window. 

Call Center Filing Schedule: 

  • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm. 

  • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be 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. 

 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security asks that you not call to inquire about these new federal programs. Their employees are processing applications for current benefits. Further details about the new federal programs and how to apply will be made available once they have been finalized.

How will this affect Illinois unemployment benefits?

Once the stimulus package has been 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. This will not be retroactively applied to unemployment benefits received in the past. In many cases, individuals will also be eligible for more weeks of unemployment above the 26 weeks provided under regular unemployment rules. Both of these benefits will be applied automatically if you qualify.

What do I do if I have already received my maximum benefits?

Some individuals who have received their entire 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for more weeks of benefits under the stimulus package. If you have exhausted your benefits, or you are close to exhausting your benefits, we are finalizing the process to continue benefits under the stimulus package. Details will be available as soon as we have received further guidance from the US Department of Labor.

I am self-employed. Do I qualify under the new federal unemployment program?

Under regular unemployment rules, the incomes of self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not subject to unemployment taxes and so typically these individuals are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The stimulus package creates a new, temporary program to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. IDES will provide information about how to apply for this benefit as soon as it is finalized. Please do not apply at this time.

Thank you for waiting to apply until further details are available. This will allow our employees to address the large volume of claims for those individuals who are eligible under current benefit programs.

 

Basic Needs (Food Assistance, Utilities, Rent)  

Food Assistance 

If you or someone you know need groceries, visit solvehungertoday.org/get-help. There you can find your nearest pantry, see a list of our upcoming mobile pantries, and learn about other food assistance programs available in your community. 

 

Utilities 

Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois - including energy, telecommunications and water - until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren't saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19. Several have announced plans to maintain services and waive late payment fees. 

Various broadband providers and mobile carriers are offering free or low-cost access in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has information on providers and programs offering free or low-cost broadband. Please visit the DCEO website for more information. 

 

Evictions 

Governor Pritzker has issued an order ceasing evictions in the State of Illinois through the duration of the disaster proclamation, which currently extends through April 7.  

Gov. Pritzker Executive Order Ceasing Evictions 

 

Crisis Care Hotline - Counselors Available 24/7
During this time of in creased stress, the demand for mental health services also rises. Last week, Lake County expanded its Crisis Care hotline to include certified addiction counselors. With closures and reduced resources nationwide, this is an important service for those experiencing a mental health crisis and for those who have substance use disorders. Call (847) 377-8088 to speak anonymously with a counselor.

 

 

For Students 

The Trump Administration announced federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least the next 60 days. Borrowers will also have the option to suspend payments entirely for at least two months without accruing interest (forbearance), but you must request this by contacting your loan service via phone or online.