Earlier this week, we noted
how President Obama's economicy recovery package has automatically extended the unemployment
insurance program and what Illinois lawmakers can do to ensure laid-off
residents have access to the most coverage possible. Gov. Pat Quinn
Earlier this week, we noted how President Obama's economicy recovery package has automatically extended the unemployment insurance program and what Illinois lawmakers can do to ensure laid-off residents have access to the most coverage possible. Gov. Pat Quinn officially announced the development yesterday, after the state triggered on to the so-called Extended Benefits (EB) program on April 5, meaning unemployed workers can now access 13 more weeks of benefits. This is the first time the state has activated the program in a quarter-century.
After our original post, Greg Rivara, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Employment Secruity (IDES), asked us to clarify the steps necessary to obtain benefits under the EB program. Currently, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits -- made available by the federal government after one's state benefits run out -- are secured by simply certifying your latest employment status on a biweekly basis via a Tele-Serve phone line.
Those claimants who exhaust their EUC benefits and want to access the additional EB benefits face stricter requirements, however. Specifically, they must submit paperwork -- by mail, fax, or in person -- demonstrating they are undergoing a "sustained and systemic" job search. This includes personally contacting at least five employers and filing at least three resumes each week. If they don't submit these files, Rivara says, claimaints will seriously jeopardize their benefits.
IDES supplies verification forms and has esablished a call center to answer any questions from EB particpants. (That number is 1-866-243-0238.) The agency is also working to find institutions that will provide free faxing capabilities to ease the process. (The fax number is 1-866-997-0238.)
Rivara further verified that if the state passed companion legislation allowing for the more generous Total Unemployment Rate Trigger (TUR) -- which goes into effect if the state's total unemployment rate exceeds both 8.0 percent for three consecutive months and 110 percent of the jobless rate during the same period in either of the previous two years -- workers could receive an additional seven weeks of beneifts paid for by the federal government. Currently, the state's three-month total unemployment rate sits at 8.5 percent, according to yesterday's figures.
UPDATE (6/29): Both legislative chambers passed Senate Bill 1350 last month, which modifies state law to trigger an additional 7 weeks of extended benefits (on top of the 13 already triggered in April). On June 26, it was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. He has 60 days to sign it into law.
UPDATE (8/26): We've created an open thread for readers to learn about the unemployment insurance process and discuss any questions or advice they have. Follow the link here.