One of the programs under the federal CARES Act is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), designed to provide unemployment benefits to those who are not usually eligible--including independent contractors, gig workers, and the self-employed--who have lost work due to COVID-19.
Final guidance on this program has not been given to states yet. However, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) now recommends that ALL people who are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19 should file for unemployment benefits. All Illinoisans who are unemployed or underemployed should apply because:
1) Even if an employer does not consider its employees to be eligible for unemployment and does not pay unemployment taxes, a worker may still be covered under state law. An employer's failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant's eligibility for benefits.
2) Under the PUA program, individuals need to establish that they do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. Applying for and being denied benefits can help establish eligibility under PUA.
Guidance from the IDES is here.
At the same time, IDES is experiencing very high call volume. They are currently processing applications for those whose last names begin with A-M on Sunday (online only), Tuesday (online & phone), and Thursday (online & phone). They are processing applications for those whose last names begin with L-Z on Monday (online & phone), Wednesday (online & phone), and Friday (online only). Details on this can be found here.