4/16/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Employee Bright Spot and Press Conference Recap

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Good afternoon, IDHS Staff:

During this pandemic, not only has IDHS been able to expand SNAP benefits and eligibility, increase childcare access for essential workers, and provide quality hospital and developmental center care, but we have also been steadfast in remaining accessible across all of our programs and services, including social security benefits through our Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDS).

DDS evaluates the federal disability program that provides benefits to persons with severe disabilities whose impairments prevent them from performing gainful work. Falling under the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), DDS is todays Bright Spot.

Todays Bright Spot Disability Determination Services

With more than 300 employees, DDS is the largest bureau within the Division of Rehabilitation Services. With a team of dynamic talent, it should be no surprise that they met and exceeded their goals in claims cleared for 2019.

As the pandemic has caused disruptions in offices, administrative and technology staff at DDS have been vigilant in ensuring best practices to protect the health of their colleagues, creating remote access and best practices for employees working on-site. In all, over 200 staff and 29 contractual medical consultants have been able to access working remotely.

Staff at DDS have faced unique challenges during this pandemic, but have met them with determination as DDS moves forward with a different business process.

There are many at DDS that have contributed to these successes, including Julie Potter, Acting DDS Deputy Director, and Administrative Directors Jessica Truesdale, Ann Hamrick, and Mary Gorman (Interim), as well as the Information Systems Unit led by Dallas Wright and his team (Tinnie Randle, John Rockwood, Joel Sharp, Paul Bellan, Scott Kinsella, Jodi Morrison, Shelly Williams, Donald Goodman, and Kevin Woodson).

I am proud of the continued leadership and dedication that is exemplified daily by all of our IDHS staff.

Yesterday, Governor Pritzkers daily press conference focused on Illinois fiscal stability and the economic challenges we and all states across the nation face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see updates from yesterdays press conference below.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governors 04-15-2020 Press Conference

  • Revenue Forecast: Gov. Pritzker is working with our federal partners and calling on Congress to pass an additional aid package that will provide funding to states to make up for unprecedented nationwide revenue shortfalls. In Illinois, general revenue funds are being revised down $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2020 and $4.6 billion in fiscal year 2021.
  • Resource Management: Earlier this month, the Governors Office of Management and Budget directed agencies to take all possible steps to manage existing resources for the remainder of fiscal year 2020 by holding off on non-essential purchases and operational expenditures, freezing travel that is not mission essential, and limiting non-essential hiring.
  • State Borrowing: The Comptroller and Treasurer extended $400 million in investment borrowing agreements due to be repaid from the General Revenue Fund in March and April to July 2020, in addition to the use of $323 million in interfund borrowing authority. They will also be issuing up to $1.2 billion in short-term borrowing in May.
  • COVID-19 Spending: The Governor directed nearly $500 million in additional spending authority to IEMA through the emergency powers granted under the gubernatorial disaster proclamation, most of which is concentrated on obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and ventilators to treat patients suffering from the most severe cases of COVID-19. An estimated $170 million has been expended to date. Federal funding is expected to cover most of the costs the State is incurring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Federal Relief: The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion disaster aid stimulus package estimated to provide more than $9 billion to Illinois governments for a variety of programs from education to aid for seniors and child nutrition to transit systems. It provides $150 billion in direct aid for COVID-19-related expenditures to the states, of which Illinois is expected to receive $4.9 billion at least $2.7 billion to the State of Illinois directly and up to $2.2 billion to larger local governments. However, these dollars can be used to cover only new expenditures related to COVID-19.
  • National Guard: Governor Pritzker concluded his remarks by expressing sincere gratitude to the Illinois National Guard, which has been invaluable during this crisis by providing a multitude of services including taking over federal drive thru clinics and helping out where needed at state facilities and prisons.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,346 new cases reported and 80 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS