gigworker 022820EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) is reminding residents that independent contractors and employees in the “gig economy” can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“Entrepreneurs can receive much needed assistance during this financially difficult time,” Belt said. “The assistance will help people affected reduce some of their financial hardship and provide them with unemployment benefits.” 

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides up to 39 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to individuals not typically eligible for unemployment benefits. In order to be eligible for the PUA program, applicants must first prove they are ineligible for regular unemployment insurance through IDES. After being denied for unemployment insurance, applicants will be considered for the PUA program. People can file for unemployment insurance here or call 800-244-5631.

In order to process the extremely high volume of unemployment benefit claims due to COVID-19, IDES has implemented the following schedule for those filing claims:

Filing Schedule:

•       Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims online Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays, or call Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

•       Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims online Mondays, Wednesday or Fridays, or call Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

•       Anyone can call Fridays from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. if they could not file over the phone during their allotted window.

•       Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file online during their allotted window.