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

 

Illinois Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

IHDA developed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Tenants whose application is approved will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlord to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020 and prepay payments through December 2020, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first.

 

Application Period

Applications for ERA will be accepted August 10th through August 21st. Due to anticipated high volume, the application window may close early. IHDA will use a third-party entity to select a pool of applications to be reviewed for eligibility. Approximately 30,000 tenants are expected to receive funding.

 

Help Applying : https://era.ihda.org/

If you need assistance applying, IHDA has partnered with 62 Community and Outreach Assistance organizations standing by to help you at no cost. You can find a list of these organizations via the Resource button on era.ihda.org. Services are available in English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, French, Romanian, Albanian, Croatian, Serbian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Cantonese, Tagalog, Mandarin and ASL. For additional assistance you may also call IHDA’s call center at (312) 883-2720, or toll-free at (888) 252-1119. For those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, please contact Navicore Solutions for free assistance at (877) 274-4309 (TTY).

 

Legal Assistance

If you are at imminent risk of eviction and need legal assistance, a legal aid clinic may be able to assist you. All services are free. You can find a list of legal assistance clinics via the Resource button on era.ihda.org.

 

 

 

Cook County’s COVID-19 Recovery: Rental Assistance Program

Cook County's Resources and Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The COVID-19 Recovery: Rental Assistance Program helps suburban Cook County residents having difficulty paying their rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It pays up to three months of overdue or future rent. 

 

Rental payments will be sent directly to landlords by the Housing Authority of Cook County. The program is part of the Cook County Community Recovery Initiative, funded by the federal CARES Act.

Applicants must:

  •  Live in suburban Cook County and rent your home. 
  •  Have past-due status on rental payments starting March 27. 
  •  Not be a recipient of other rental assistance programs. 
  •  Prove household income before March 27 was below the 80th percentile of the Area Median Income (AMI). To see if your income qualifies, check the table below:

80th Percential of Median Income for the Chicago Area:

 

1 person household: $51,000    

5 person household: $78,650

2 person household: $58,250

6 person household: $84,450

3 person household: $65,550

7 person household: $90,300

4 person household: $72,800

8 person household: $96,100

 

 

 

Lake County COVID Housing Relief Program

Lake County renters and homeowners who have been impacted by COVID-19 are invited to apply for a new program that offers financial assistance to help pay for rent, gas and electric bills.  

The Lake County COVID Housing Relief Program is being funded by the Lake County Board, using federal dollars the county received through the federal CARES Act.  The program offers financial assistance for up to three months of rent and/or utility bills for qualified residents who meet certain income guidelines. In order to qualify:

  • You must be a Lake County resident.
  • You must have recently lost income due to COVID-19, because of a job loss or other reasons, such as because you have to miss work to care for your school-age children. You can also qualify if you have a large unexpected medical cost.
  • You must have limited savings.
  • Your household must meet annual household income requirements. 

To apply for the program, Lake County residents should call 211 or text their zip code to 898211 for more information and to get help. Applicants will be asked to fill out an application and provide evidence of their income and expenses. If approved, the money will be sent directly to the landlord or utility company.

For more information on eligibility and other requirements, view this fact sheet.

 

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.

 

 

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.