Economic Support

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put together a toolkit to help people understand the expansion of benefits and stimulus that have passed at the federal level. There are a variety of resources available to provide people with economic support during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to access the toolkit.

If you’re under financial hardship due to COVID-19, you may qualify for: 

Unemployment Benefits

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has compiled an FAQ on how the federal stimulus package will impact individuals applying for unemployment. That information is available here.

Individuals who have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Under recently adopted emergency rules due to the coronavirus outbreak, individuals do not have to register with the employment service, and are instead considered to be actively seeking work as long as they are prepared to return to their job as soon as the employer re-opens. Full eligibility requirements can be found on the IDES unemployment insurance handbook.

Additionally, under the Federal CARES Act, there has been an expansion of Unemployment Compensation due to the COVID-19 crisis. Please take a moment to review FAQs on how the CARE Act impacts Unemployment here.

Along with general demographic and background information, individuals will need the following information to apply:

  • Drivers license or state ID
  • Current residential and mailing address
  • Social security number
  • Last dates of employment
  • Number of days worked during the last employment period
  • Number of weeks earning $484 or more during last employment period

More information can be found on the IDES website. Since the announcement on March 18, the website has been having some delays due to the amount of people trying to access it. IDES is aware of the delay and has been working on their server to address the issue. You can also call the IDES support line at (800) 244-5631 but be aware that wait times may be up to 30 minutes.

IDES has shared with legislators that it could take a month (that was last week so now 3 weeks) to get the site open to allow contract workers to apply. Here is a link to the most recent guidance. At this time, individuals shouldn’t apply if they fall in this category. I know this is very frustrating, but at this point we have not received further public guidance. The only saving grace is that this will be backdated to the date they were unemployed but understandably this is still frustrating as individuals need the money now. The most recent guidance (dated April 7) is available at this link.


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Undocumented immigrants are able to apply for these benefits. Learn more and apply online.

SNAP and Medicaid Benefits

Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, can be used to purchase groceries from local stores. Medicaid can help you access health insurance if you are uninsured. Eligibility is determined by household income. Those affected by recent COVID-19 related job losses may qualify. Apply directly through the IDES website, or get assistance from the Greater Chicago Food Depository Benefits Hotline (Mon-Fri, 8:30a-5p) at 773-843-5416. Visit the Food / Nutrition and Health / Healthcare pages of this website for additional neighborhood and citywide resources. Visit the Department of Human Services’ website to use an interactive SNAP calculator.

There have been a number of laws that have passed expanding access to food assistance programs. The Greater Chicago Food Depository has compiled a number of resources to help people navigate the different programs for which they may be eligible:


There is an online Federal Cares Act brief that goes over the various components of this bill. Additional information and fact sheets are linked below.

Those in need of COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments, but hadn’t filed their federal taxes in 2018 or 2019, the IRS now has up a portal for non-filers. Non-filers can now enter their payment information on the IRS’ website.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. 

The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.

The Treasury press release on this is available at this link or visit IRS News Release IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020, Economic impact payments: What you need to know, has been updated with this information. 

Summary of provisions in the bill (tables have estimates for how much each state will receive):

  • A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund:  Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. [TABLE]
  • $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits:  Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
  • Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans:  Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.  These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
  • More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief:  Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
  • Approximately $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research:  Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the Following:
    • Transit Agencies:  Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency.  [TABLE]
    • HUD Emergency Solution Grants:  Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.  In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas. [TABLE]
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant:  Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  [TABLE]
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):  Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. [TABLE]
    • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program:  Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. [TABLE]
    • CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards:  Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and . Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency.  In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs. [TABLE]
    • Election Assistance:  Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections.  Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals.  Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration.  [TABLE]