CHICAGO (CBS) — Weekly unemployment numbers come out this morning. Since we are committed to Working for Chicago, we’ve been tracking the data for months, just like we’ve been tracking progress on various problems at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
IDES continues to blame the federal government for a lag in implementing a new law that could make life a whole lot easier for several people.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory dug into some of the barriers the state raises.
When CBS 2 last spoke with Maggie Nash in December, her scary deadline to cough up more than $14,000 hadn’t passed.
“Now I have not heard back. So I wait,” Nash said.
Like so many others facing overpayment notices after receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through IDES, Nash filed an appeal.
“I did provide like 15 pages full of documents,” she said.
What she’s really hoping for is forgiveness through the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill. It allows states to waive PUA repayments in some cases.
But CBS 2 told you about that option three weeks ago, before New Year’s.READ MORE: Northwestern Alums Create 'The Seeker,' A Highly Accurate Football Thrower They Call A Robotic QB
Here’s what IDES copied and pasted about their work on the waiver last week and this week.
The agency said it was “actively reviewing” a Jan. 8 document from the U.S. Department of Labor. We found a section where the feds are trying to help states define situations where paying money back doesn’t align with “equity and good conscience.”
Some states might need to start from scratch, but it looks like we don’t. The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Law Handbook already has a whole section on “equity and good conscience,” which is defined as extreme financial hardship.
Evidence can include eviction notices, utility cut-off warnings, and unexpected medical bills.
Perhaps the bigger hold-up in granting waivers is something that could affect all taxpayers. We asked if the state government would be on the hook to the federal government for overpayments it forgives. The feds told us no, but IDES said it is still “seeking guidance.”
“I would hope that our officials and whatever needs to be done gets done, because people need help, and this is pretty scary for a lot people,” Nash said.
IDES has promised it won’t charge interest to people like Nash whose big repayment bills are now overdue.
Waiving PUA overpayments is optional, according to the new law, and some states may choose not to do it.MORE NEWS: Cariacature Artist, Substitute Teacher Says She Keeps Trying To Reach Illinois Unemployment Office -- Only To Have Calls Dropped
Has IDES made an official determination? CBS 2 didn’t get a straight yes or no answer, but we’re told the department is “developing a plan to implement” it.