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Illinois Unemployment Benefits

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Illinois unemployment insurance (UI) is a temporary financial assistance program that provides funds to eligible applicants. This program, which is funded by tax payers, is also referred to as unemployment compensation (UC). Specifically, UI is available to local workers who are in between jobs and in need of financial support. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is responsible for managing all applications for petitioners hoping to claim unemployment benefits.

The following sections will explain the program’s eligibility for unemployment requirements, as well as the specific information petitioners must provide in their materials. In addition, the subsequent portions will address how to apply for unemployment online and what claimants must do to maintain enrollment.

What is unemployment in Illinois?

Local workers may apply for the Illinois unemployment program after losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Claimants may enroll in unemployment insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks in a single calendar year. Workers with a valid unemployment claim are eligible to receive UC benefits after serving a preliminary wait week. In general, unemployment insurance benefits are not intended to provide enrollees with long-term financial support. However, this program does provide beneficiaries with critical temporary support while they search for new employment opportunities.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Illinois?

The IDES determines eligibility for unemployment in Illinois by assessing two key factors in the petitioners’ applications. The first relates to monetary requirements. In order to meet the state’s unemployment insurance eligibility requirements, applicants must make sure that they have earned enough in the 18 months preceding their petitions to UC. Specifically, the IDES will consult the wages petitioners earned during their base periods. These base periods consist of the first four of the last five most recent calendar quarters. Thus, workers must have met the following requirements:

  • Earned wages Candidates must have earned at least $1,600 during their total base period.
  • Insured employee – In order to receive UC benefits, claimants must have worked for employers who pay for unemployment benefits.
  • Wage distribution – Applicants must have earned at least $440 outside of the base period quarter when they earned the highest income.

Beyond the criteria regarding wages, qualifications for unemployment denote that petitioners must have lost their jobs due to circumstances that were out of their control. As a result, when determining who qualifies for unemployment, the IDES will examine the reasons that led up to the applicants’ unemployment. Individuals who are unemployed for the following reasons are unlikely to receive UI benefits:

  • Applicants who are discharged for misconduct or workplace neglect are unlikely to receive UC.
  • Petitioners who quit their jobs for personal reasons do not qualify for UI. Examples of reasons that fall into this category include having school obligations that prohibit employees from working full-time or not having reliable transportation to and from work.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Illinois?

Petitioners who wonder how to apply for unemployment online must be mindful of the specific information they must provide to enroll in UI. The online application for unemployment will prompt them to submit:

  • Identifying information – Applicants must produce their Social Security Numbers (SSNs). In addition, they must provide their weights, which is a detail provided on their driver’s licenses or state identification cards.
  • Dependent information – When claiming spouses or children as dependents, petitioners must submit these individuals’ names, birth dates and Social Security Numbers.
  • Employment history – Claimants must include the names, addresses and phone numbers for any employers they worked for in the past 18 months. Similarly, candidates must include the dates they worked for these employers and the reasons why they no longer work there.
  • Wage records – In some instances, applicants may need to submit their wage records, such as W-2s, for any employer they had recently. If petitioners worked during the week of their application, they must include the gross wages earned during that period as well.

When candidates who fall into specific categories apply for unemployment benefits in Illinois, they may need to submit additional information. The following are examples of additional details that may be required:

  • Non-citizens must disclose their Alien Registration Numbers.
  • Veterans will be asked to submit a Member 4 copy of the DD form 214/315. However, they may include a different copy of those forms.
  • Federal government employees must submit copies of the Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50.

When petitioners file for an unemployment claim, they will also be required to decide how they would prefer to receive their stipends. Once enrolled in the program, workers may decide to receive UC funds via direct deposit into their personal accounts. On the other hand, petitioners have the opportunity to choose to receive their benefits through a state-issued debit card.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Illinois?

Petitioners may need to prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in IL if the IDES finds any errors in their applications. For instance, the IDES may require an interview with applicants who did not present acceptable reasons for losing their jobs. These conversations typically take place two weeks after petitioners file their claims. In this instance, the unemployment phone interview is necessary so that the state can gather additional information and verify whether the petitioner qualifies for the program. Thus, the questions asked during unemployment interview relate to clarifying any details that were unclear or incorrect in an application. As a result, workers should expect the questions asked during these conversations to be specific to their own cases.

In some instances, an unemployment interview with employer may be required. This is necessary when employers and workers produce significantly different statements, particularly regarding the reasons why employment was terminated. In these situations, the IDES may need to conduct a UI interview with the claimant. However, petitioners should not be concerned with learning how to pass the unemployment insurance interview in these situations. The IDES does not conduct these interviews without also consulting with all of the other parties involved. Therefore, candidates should be concerned with providing honest answers that can help the state accurately assess their cases.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Illinois?

In order to claim unemployment benefits in Illinois, petitioners must fulfill additional criteria that extend beyond the application process. For example, petitioners must certify their weekly benefits every two weeks. This means that, to file an unemployment benefits claim, petitioners must submit program-specific information to the IDES twice a month. When claiming benefits for unemployment, applicants may submit their information either over the phone or online. Regardless of the method, petitioners must be prepared to submit the following details:

  • Pay and wages – Enrollees must notify the IDES of any wages they earned during their certification periods. Similarly, individuals must report any Social Security benefits, pension, retirement or vacation pay they earned during each certification week.
  • Work search – Beneficiaries are required to report all job search efforts they made during the weeks they are claiming. Specifically, claimants must complete a work search form. On this document, enrollees will report the employers they contacted, how they reached out, the type of work they sought and which results came from their inquiries.
  • Contact information updates – Recipients must notify the IDES if they have a change in address or phone number while they are enrolled in the program.
  • Enrollment changes – Program participants need to advise the IDES if they take any classes while they are enrolled in UC. In addition, they must report if they attend any trainings during their enrollment periods.

In order to claim UI benefits, it is imperative that enrollees adhere to all of the above mentioned requirements. Furthermore, beneficiaries must ensure they submit their materials on their designated days. If enrollees do not complete these tasks during the appropriate time, they risk not receiving their benefits for those particular weeks.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Illinois?

Candidates who are denied unemployment in Illinois have the opportunity to file an appeal and request to have the claim reevaluated. To request a reconsideration regarding a denied unemployment benefits decision, applicants must either mail, fax or hand-deliver a letter to the IDES office. Alternatively, they may complete and submit a “Request for Reconsideration of Claims Adjudicator’s Determination.” Either claimants or their employers may submit an appeal. However, both parties only have 30 days to deliver the document.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the state’s Board of Review is responsible for overseeing the unemployment benefits denied hearing. Employers and petitioners have the opportunity to submit additional documents as evidence for this hearing. However, these exhibits must be sent in advance to the ALJ and the other parties. All of the parties involved in an unemployment denial appeal hearing will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail after they apply. This document outlines the dates and times for the hearings.

During the denied UC hearing, petitioners and their employers have the right to bring in lawyers. However, this is not required. Similarly, supervisors and candidates may elect to bring witnesses to testify for them during these trials.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Illinois?

U.S. Congress may authorize a federal unemployment extension during periods when many individuals in a state or region are unemployed. Similarly, this unemployment benefits extension may be offered on a national basis. Like in other states, an unemployment extension in Illinois is not common. These are emergency measures only offered in situations of extremely high unemployment rates. When offered, candidates who have exhausted the state’s 26-week maximum enrollment period are able to enroll in UI for additional weeks. In order to apply, candidates must contact local IDES offices.

How do I contact the Illinois unemployment office?

Petitioners and employers may contact the Illinois unemployment office with questions. The IDES maintains an unemployment office in most major cities throughout the state. For instance, the UI office in Chicago is located at:

33 South State Street

Chicago, Illinois 60603


What is IDES?

IDES is the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The IDES website handles registrations for unemployment insurance benefits in the state of Illinois.

What is a Claimant ID?

In the state of Illinois, the number that is assigned to you once you file your claim is known as a Claimant ID (CID). Using a CID keeps the program from having to use a Social Security number.

Where would I use my CID?

Your CID can be used anytime you are sending documents to the Illinois Department of Employment Services. You are encouraged to write your CID on all documentation you are faxing or mailing to them.

What happens if I get locked out of my account?

If for any reason you are locked out of your account, you can call 1-800-244-5631 in order to talk to a representative that can confirm your identity and unlock your account.

What if I move?

You can change your address with the Illinois Department of Employment Security by:

Visiting the IDES website and logging into your account

Visiting a local IDES office

Calling 1-800-244-5631

Illinois Unemployment Office Locations


Illinois Department of Employment Security 850 E Madison Street #1 Springfield, IL 62702 (800) 244-5631 View Website Unemployement Claim File

Find Unemployment Office Locations

There are 85 Illinois Unemployment Office Locations