CHICAGO (CBS) — A growing number of Illinois residents said they’ve been approved for unemployment benefits.

But they won’t get a dime for months.

That’s because they’re re serving penalty weeks on previous claims, even if they’re already paid the money back.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports on how other states are handling the issue.

California is allowing those serving penalty weeks to collect some federal funds. New York is proposing a bill that would suspend the penalties as well.

CBS 2 asked Illinois Governor JB Pritzker why not consider those solutions in Illinois?

Rachel Daub still has the receipt for the more than $4,000 that was garnished from her 2014 tax returns after she was overpaid for a claim she filed back in 2011.

But when this single mom of four lost her server job to COVID-19 and was certified to receive unemployment, she got a terrible surprise.

“I’m getting a 26-week penalty,” Daub said.

Even though she paid the money back, she won’t see a penny of that claim until she waits out the 26 weeks. That means absolutely no income being a single mother of four children. When asked how she was going to make eds meet, Daub said they won’t meet.

CBS 2 asked Governor Pritzker about California’s solution to allow residents in these situations to collect some federal funds.  But Pritzker said states like California are gambling on the premise that they’ll be reimbursed. And he argued that the state of Illinois isn’t in a position to do that.

“People who are on penalty weeks, it’s a difficult circumstances. Sometimes fraud, sometimes inadvertent fraud perhaps. And those things have to be arbitrated,” Pritzker said. “We want to do it in the right way. It’s a terrible circumstance.”

That answer doesn’t cut it for Daub who said her savings won’t last nearly that long.

“I’m a server, not a millionaire. So my funds are low to begin with,” Daub said.

IDES said only a change in state law can make penalty weeks disappear, and at this point it hasn’t been made aware of any legislative proposals.

 

Megan Hickey