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)  

 

Rent & Mortgage Assistance

Lake County

  • The Lake County COVID Housing Relief Program (CHRP) provides rent and utility assistance for eligible households financially impacted by COVID-19. If you are a Lake County resident and need help paying rent or utility bills, please call 211. To learn more about the Lake County COVID Housing Relief Program: https://www.lakecountyil.gov/4476/Lake-County-COVID-Housing-Relief-Program

 

Cook County

  • If you are a suburban Cook County resident and need financial assistance with mortgage, rent payments, rent deposits, utility payments, or other housing issues please call the Homeless Prevention Call Center at (877) 4-COOK-15 or (877) 426-6515. Listen carefully to the prompts to choose which kind of help you need. City of Chicago residents should call 311 or (312) 744-5000 (outside of Chicago).

 

Eviction Filing Moratorium

  • Per Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 Executive Order No.45, between March 20, 2020 and August 22, 2020 (subject to further extension by the Governor), all state, county and local enforcement must cease and owners cannot file for eviction, except where a tenant poses a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants, an immediate and sever risk to property or a violation of a building code, health ordinance or similar regulation. This applies to all property in Illinois.

 

Governor Pritzker announces $900 Million available for mortgage and rental relief

The Illinois Housing Development Authority is developing programs for Emergency Rental Assistance and Emergency Mortgage Assistance for households who have lost income due to COVID-19. Both programs are under development currently.

  • Applications for Emergency Rental Assistance will be available on August 10
  • Applications for Emergency Mortgage Assistance will be available on August 24

Please visit idha.org for applications and additional information.

To apply for funding, providers need a current license from the Department of Children and Family Services, and must be open and caring for children at the time of application. Businesses must also be able to provide evidence of pandemic-related business interruptions.

 

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. 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help you and your family purchase groceries. To find out if you are eligible or to get help with your application, visit abe.illinois.gov or call 844-600-7627.

 The Northeastern Illinois Food Bank can also be a useful resource in feeding you and your family. Find your nearest pantry at solvehungertoday.org/get-help.

 

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. 

 

 

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.

 

Child Care Restoration Grants

The Governor and the Illinois General Assembly has directed at least $270 million of the state’s Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Fund to support the economic health of child care providers as our economy reopens in the coming months.  As part of CURE, the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) Program is specifically designed to support businesses who endure lost revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is charged to develop the grant program for licensed child care. The Child Care Restoration Grants will be administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

Child Care Restoration Grants application is now available!

 

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.