Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program to Help Self-Employed and Others

Dear Neighbor:

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has launched its new portal for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistant program and is accepting applications.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is designed to provide unemployment benefits for those who would not normally be eligible for and have experienced job loss due to COVID-19. This includes the self-employed, contract workers, gig economy workers and sole proprietors. There will be no penalties for any delays in applying and can be back dated to February 2, 2020.

The PUA application will not require proof of income. Anyone who qualifies for PUA will automatically be entitled to the baseline benefit amount plus the $600/week added benefit from the federal stimulus bill. Applicants can increase their benefits by reporting their previous income. IDES encourages PUA applicants to submit their most recent tax return as evidence of earnings. However, submitting this proof of income is not required.

Please note that It is necessary to first submit a regular employment claim through IDES, which you can file here. While you will likely be denied for traditional unemployment benefits, being denied is required to become eligible for PUA. Once you have gotten denied for traditional unemployment, you must then apply for PUA. This is done through the PUA portal which launched on May 11.  PUA applicants will need to include their initial UI denial letter during filing of this claim.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has brought on another 100 claims agents and increased their call center capacity to handle the extra claims expected. The PUA application portal is designed to process 140,000 claims per hour. For more information about this process, please visit the IDES Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ here. To file a PUA claim, please click here.

While my physical office remains closed to help fight the spread of the virus, my staff and I are working remotely and are here for you. We can be reached at 847-486-8810 or via email It’s an honor to serve as your State Representative.

Stay Safe!




Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz




With Illinois schools moving to remote learning during COVID19, a special program called the Pandemic Emergency Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is here to help families buy food for school-aged children or young people.

If you currently receive SNAP benefits, you are automatically eligible for P-EBT benefits and do not need to apply. Your P-EBT benefits will be automatically loaded into your Illinois LINK EBT account along with your regular SNAP benefits.

If you do not currently receive SNAP benefits and need to apply for the P-EBT program or to learn more, click here. Help Is Here.

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