Dear friends,


It’s come to my attention that due to the unprecedented volume of unemployment claims filed with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), many people have had a difficult time accessing the department’s website and phone lines.


I understand the frustration this causes, so I wanted to take a moment to share with you the steps Governor Pritzker and IDES are taking to improve this experience for Illinoisans.


So far, IDES has implemented several measures to streamline the filing process. These include improving the website’s infrastructure to increase capacity, extending call center hours and increasing call center staff.


In addition to these measures, IDES is now implementing a new alphabetized schedule to help reduce wait times for claims filed both online and over the phone. The day or time of day you call will not affect whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. The schedules are as follows:


Online Filing Schedule

  • People with last names A-M are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays.
  • People with last names N-Z are asked to filed claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Saturdays are available for those who are unable to file during their allotted time.

Call Center Filing Schedule

  • People with last names A-M are asked to file claims on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • People with last names N-Z are asked to file claims on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. will be reserved for those who are unable to file during their allotted time.


You can file your unemployment insurance claim online here. To file your claim over the phone, you can call 1-800-244-5631. Although this new schedule is expected to improve this process, you may still experience some wait time to file your claim. Thank you for your patience as IDES works through the large volume of claims they are receiving.


Other notable items:

Help for Small Businesses

Gov. Pritzker announced new Illinois state programs for emergency assistance for Illinois’s small business community, augmenting aid from existing federal programs. Applications are available now for the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program and the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund.


Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

The Hospitality Emergency Grant Program can help hospitality businesses– like hotels, motels, bars, and restaurants– make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers $14 million to support working capital, like payroll and rent, as well as job training and technology to enable shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery.


Business owners can find more information on the program here, and can submit an application here. A Spanish-language application is available here.


Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 1. Winners will be chosen via a lottery system, so there is no benefit to submitting an application early as long as a valid, complete application is received by the deadline.


Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will establish the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to struggling small businesses.


Eligible businesses can submit a full application here beginning April 1. DCEO and IDFPR aim to make a loan decision within ten days of the submission date and make funds available within two days of receiving necessary bank information from the loan recipient.


Small businesses located outside the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 may apply. Small businesses within the City of Chicago can apply to a similar loan program here.


A $2 Trillion stimulus package became law Friday. What does it mean for you?

The U.S. House passed a $2 Trillion stimulus package Friday, and the president signed it into law.


This means many will receive checks from the U.S. government:

-Individuals who earn $75,000 or less get $1,200

-Married couples earning up to $150,000 are to receive $2,400

-Parents receive an additional $500 per child


The payment would decrease by income until phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.


The plan also provides billions to hospitals and state and local governments struggling to fight the coronavirus.


Hours for seniors and at-risk people


It can be unnerving to spend time in a crowded grocery story right now. Essential businesses have worked to increase social distance for shoppers, particularly those who have created special hours for seniors and other high-risk people only. If you must get out and don’t have access to curb-side pickup or delivery, take advantage of this social distance shopping option.

Visit for more information.


The number of cases is increasing drastically as more testing becomes available. You can see the latest numbers on my website. Please do your part to prevent the spread by staying home.


I encourage you to continue monitoring the latest news about COVID-19 in Illinois on the state’s coronavirus response page as well as on my Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to contact my office at 773-933-7715 with any questions you may have.



Elgie R. Sims, Jr.

State Senator| 17th District

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This