By Attorney Edward Abramson
Since March 12, 2020, Illinois has been in a state of emergency and the Governor has utilized successive 30-day Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations to provide the State additional tools for handling the effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic and associated variants. Though the evictions moratorium was recently ended in early October, some programs continue to be impacted by the Governor's emergency powers, including unemployment benefits.
During the height of the pandemic as applications for unemployment benefits overwhelmed the Department of Employment Security (“IDES”). IDES paid out over one billion dollars to over 170,000 residents that the department has subsequently determined were ineligible for benefits and liable to the state for some or all of the benefits paid. To partially address this issue, Public Act 102-0026 was signed into law effective June 25, 2021 and commands IDES to implement a system for ineligible beneficiaries to apply for waivers of these overpayment debts, sometimes over $20,000.00, provided the applicant 1) received the benefits through no fault of their own; 2) recovery of the overpayment would “be against equity and good conscience”; 3) received the overpayment between March 8, 2020 and the end of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation period (which is ongoing); and 4) the waiver request form is submitted within 45 days of it being available and received in the mail. Unfortunately, not only have no forms been circulated to impacted Illinoisans, the form itself is still in development, as are the department's policies and processes for handling the forms.
We will continue to monitor this situation as it develops to better assist our clients in confronting unemployment benefits issues which are the last thing that anyone struggling to get by should have to deal with.
If you have any questions about this article, or if you need legal assistance for any legal matter, call CTM Legal Group at 312-818-6700.