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Federal benefit programs expired on September 4th. Learn about what this means for you.

Expired Federal Programs FAQ

The last payable week for federal programs (PUA, PEUC, FPUC, and MEUC) was September 4th, 2021. This information is archived and available for reference only.

What is FPUC?

FPUC provides an additional $300 per week in supplemental benefits to eligible claimants. The $300 benefit runs from December 27, 2020 through September 4, 2021.

When will IDES begin paying out the extra $300?

IDES began paying out the $300 FPUC benefit for all programs beginning January 4, 2021.

Who is eligible for the additional $300?

Anyone who receives at least $1 of unemployment benefits for a week, during the period after December 26, 2020 and before September 4, 2021.

Do I need to apply for the additional $300?

No. You do not need to take any additional action to receive this supplemental payment. Continue to certify as normal for the unemployment benefit you are currently receiving.

What does “Reasons attributable to COVID-19” mean?

PUA provides benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed in the CARES Act and stated below:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • The individual must quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Note: The business must be closed, not simply providing reduced services.
  • The individual is self-employed (which includes independent contractors) and the individual has experienced a significant diminution of their customary or usual services because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, even absent a suspension of services. Note: This provision does not apply to employees.
  • The individual has been denied continued unemployment benefits because the individual refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that, in either instance, is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, those related to facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.
  • An individual provides services to an educational institution or educational service agency and the individual is unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in the work schedule that is directly caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, changes in schedules and partial closures.
  • An individual is an employee and their hours have been reduced or the individual was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants eligible for the additional $300?

Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program.

I did not file a tax return in 2019 and or 2020. Will I be eligible for benefits?

Yes, though independent contractors, sole proprietors, and others who do not have wages reported for them by an employer will have to provide other documentation of the amount of net income they received in 2019 and/or 2020, and be otherwise eligible.

Once my application is processed and I begin receiving my unemployment benefits, will I also receive the additional $300 at the same time?

Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program. Under federal law, anyone eligible for at least a $1 in benefits for a week will be eligible for the $300 extra that will be received at the same time as their unemployment payments. The first week for which FPUC may be paid is the week ending January 2, 2021; and the last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending September 4, 2021.

How long will Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last?

The PUA program supports individuals who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as independent contractors. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) extended PUA to September 4, 2021. Eligibility for this extension began March 14, 2021.

I am self-employed. Do I qualify under the PUA 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. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was created to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. A precondition for approval is that someone is not eligible for other unemployment programs. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular UI program can help establish eligibility under the new temporary PUA program. The federal legislation also requires an individual collecting PUA to provide documentation of their prior employment/self-employment.

What is the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program?

Under the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, beginning with the week ending January 2, 2021, someone who earned a combination of income from a traditional job and had earnings of at least $5,000 during the applicable period as an independent contractor might be eligible for a $100 supplemental payment in addition to their regular UI benefit, extended benefits (EB) and federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). This additional amount is not available for those receiving PUA. This additional benefit is known as Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).

For more information, including how to apply, visit the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) page.

I receive a 1099 for the job(s) I do as an independent contractor. Am I eligible for PUA?

You may be eligible for regular unemployment insurance, as a “1099 employee” is not synonymous with “independent contractor” as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Act.
In Illinois, every individual who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits, even if they have been told they're not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program - because they’re an independent contractor, part of the “gig economy,” or for some other reason. It is possible that whoever told them they were not covered was wrong. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for regular UI benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under Illinois law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.

Is it possible to waive a PUA overpayment?

For PUA Overpayments: The federal Continued Assistance Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020, provides states the ability to waive recovery of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) overpayments in the event the overpayments were established through no fault of the claimant; and the recovery of the overpayment would be against “equity and good conscience.” If an overpayment was established on your PUA claim, you will receive a Request for Waiver of Recovery of PUA Overpayment Questionnaire by email or mail, depending on your PUA correspondence preference. To be considered for a waiver, you must complete and return the questionnaire in full by providing clear, detailed responses to each question.
Approval of the waiver will be based on the information you provide on the questionnaire. If additional information is needed to make a determination, you will be contacted by an IDES representative.

What options do I have if my PUA overpayment waiver request is denied?

You will have the right to appeal the determination.

I already repaid part or all my PUA overpayment. If I am successfully granted a waiver, will I get this money back?

Yes. If your waiver request is approved, any overpayment of benefits prior to the effective date of the approval will be removed from your overpayment balance and you will be paid back any monies that you repaid or that were recouped from benefits. 

Can the Department issue blanket waivers for overpayments?

Generally, no.  But federal law does allow for blanket waivers of overpayments in these two specific instances:

  1. When an individual, through no fault of their own, was accidently paid PUA when they should have been paid PEUC, or when they were accidently paid PEUC when they should have been paid PUA; or
  1. When a PUA claimant, through no fault of their own, was paid a minimum weekly benefit amount that was higher than the minimum amount set by federal law.

The Department will automatically send a letter to any claimant that fits into either of these two situations to let them know that the overpayment has been waived.

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, is the employer liable for the cost of benefits?

The programs under the CARES Act and subsequent legislation are funded by the federal government and not Illinois. For regular unemployment compensation, employers generally contribute to the cost of benefits for their former employees. The contribution rate of an experience-rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees, so this rate may rise when an employer furloughs or lays off employees due to COVID-19. If legislation is passed making claims related to COVID-19 non-chargeable to the employer, then employers furloughing or laying off workers due solely to COVID-19 would not be charged for the benefit costs, and the charges would be “pooled” between all employers. This would likely result in increased unemployment tax rates in future years for all employers because the entire pool of employers would need to be tasked with replenishing the benefit trust fund.

I have exhausted my rights to regular unemployment insurance (UI). Are additional benefits available because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is a temporary program that provides additional weeks of benefits for claimants who exhaust all 26 weeks of their original regular UI benefits. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) extended PEUC through September 4, 2021. If you previously exhausted your PEUC benefits, the additional payments cannot be backdated for weeks prior to March 14, 2021.

As a sole proprietor or independent contractor, what documentation must I provide if I am eligible to receive PUA benefits?

Any individual that receives a payment of PUA after December 27, 2020 is required to provide documentation substantiating employment or self-employment, (e.g. your federal income tax return or, if you do not have a return, you must provide other documentation to show your earnings in the prior tax year), or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment. The deadline for providing such documentation depends on when the individual filed the initial PUA claim.

Filing New Applications for PUA - Individuals filing a new PUA application on or after January 31, 2021 (regardless of whether the claim is backdated), are required to provide documentation within 21 days of application or the date the individual is directed to submit the documentation by IDES , whichever is later. The deadline may be extended if the individual has shown good cause under state UI law within 21 days.

Filing Continued Claims for PUA - Individuals who applied for PUA before January 31, 2021 and receive a payment of PUA on or after December 27, 2020 (regardless of which week ending date is being paid), are required to provide documentation substantiating employment or self-employment, or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment, within 90 days of the application date or when directed to submit the documentation by IDES, whichever is later. The deadline may be extended if the individual has shown good cause under UI law.

I was fired from my job for misconduct and was denied regular state unemployment insurance benefits. Do I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

No. An individual who is otherwise able to work and available for work, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons would be qualified for PUA. However, an individual who is discharged for misconduct is not unemployed due to a COVID-19 reason and would not qualify for PUA benefits.

If I exhaust all of my weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), are there any other extensions?

If you exhaust PEUC and the state is triggered "on" to Extended Benefits (EB), you may be eligible to receive EB. Depending on the unemployment rate, the law provides for either 13 or 20 additional weeks of EB. In most cases, if you qualify, you will be automatically moved to this program.

Do I have to file an application for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Extended Benefits (EB)?

Most eligible claimants will automatically be moved between programs. A few claimants who live in other states may receive notice that they must file an additional application.

If I live outside of Illinois, am I still eligible for EB?

Yes. If you lived in another state but commuted to work in Illinois, if otherwise eligible, you would receive the amount of EB triggered “on” in Illinois. If you live in another state but did not commute to Illinois (for example, you moved to Alabama after working in Illinois), you could receive the amount of EB that is payable in Illinois but only if your state of residence has triggered “on.” However, if your state of residence has triggered “off” of EB or was never triggered "on" and Illinois remains triggered “on,” you are eligible for only two more weeks of EB in Illinois.

I am currently receiving Extended Benefits (EB). What happens if I exhaust EB, or EB triggers off?

Claimants on EB as of March 11, 2021 will remain on EB. When they exhaust EB, or EB triggers off, they will transition back to PEUC, which was extended through September 4, 2021.

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