Updated : January 29th, 2019
How to claim your benefits in Illinois
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Detailed information on eligibility requirements in your state.
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Illinois Unemployment Questions
If I file an appeal of a decision, do I need an attorney?
The appeals process is administrative in nature and the majority of appeals hearings are held without attorneys. Your employer may be represented by an attorney or a tax consultant, but it is strictly your decision as to whether or not an attorney is needed.
If you do not want to hire a private attorney but feel you need professional advice for handling an appeal, you may qualify for limited free legal services - provided your claim is judged by the legal service provider to be a valid one, i.e. a position that appears to be well-grounded in fact and answers the requirements of the law.
Will the appeal process stop my unemployment benefits?
No. If benefits have been awarded, an appeal does not stop payment of benefits as long as other requirements are met.
However, if benefits are awarded and an appeal changes the decision to a disqualification, then benefits will be stopped. If the decision is reversed at the referee level, you will be required to repay any money you received.
Illinois Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are paid through a debit card, unless you elect to receive payment by direct deposit to a checking or savings account.
Before any benefits can be paid on a new claim, you must serve a non-paid "waiting week". Electronic payments made to eligible individuals are generally available within 2-3 business days of certification.
What is the difference between Certify and Re-Open a UI claim?
Certifying for benefits must be done every two weeks to ensure you remain eligible and can receive a benefit payment. Re-opening a claim is different. A customer re-opens when they have collected unemployment insurance benefits, returned to work for a period of time, and was laid off again within the same benefit year as their original layoff. That period of time could be as long as many months or as short as one week.
I opened my UI claim through Tele-Serve but now I can’t certify, why?
Any time you earn over your weekly benefit amount on a previous certification or have a new period of employment an additional claim must be filed either online or at your local office for residence of Illinois. If you reside outside the state of Illinois you may file online or by contacting our Interstate Benefit team at (800) 344-5573 (choose Option 1 for Claims, then option 2 for interstate claims).
I am trying to register online for UI but getting I keep getting a message I can't be validated, what does this mean?
The social security number, name and date of birth you enter are matched against the data we have for the social security number. If the information does not match exactly, you will not be able to use the online services. Claims may be filed in person at a local IDES office.
How are weekly benefit amounts determined?
Your weekly benefit amount is determined by the total wages paid to you by each of your employers during your "base" period. Your base period consists of the first four of the last five quarters (three-month periods) where you earned wages, going back from the time of your initial claim for benefits.
To be monetarily eligible for benefits, you must have been paid wages of at least $1,600 for insured work during your base period. Of this amount, at least $440 must have been paid to you outside of the base period quarter in which your wages were the highest. Effective for benefit years beginning on or after January 1, 2008, if you have not earned sufficient wages during the base period described above, we will try to establish your eligibility using a base period consisting of the last four completed quarters.
If you have a dependent child or a dependent unemployed spouse, you may also receive an allowance for one of them.
When do I get paid after I certify for unemployment insurance benefits?
On eligible claims, payment can be expected on your state issued debit card or by direct deposit 48 to 72 business hours after certifications.
How many weeks of Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits will I receive?
If you are eligible for Extended Benefits (EB), you will receive up to 20 weeks of additional benefits.
What if I miss my call date (to certify)?
If you miss your regular call day (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday), you may still certify on Thursday or Friday of that same week, either online or by calling (Tele-Serve). You may also certify on your regular call day in the following week (or Thursday or Friday of that week). Payment of benefits will be based on certifying for benefits in a timely manner and meeting the eligibility requirements of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.
What if I do not meet the work search requirements for extended UI benefits, or fail to mail or fax my Extended Benefits Work Search form?
If you do not send in your work search document or it is incomplete, you will be denied EB benefits indefinitely until you return to work for at least 4 weeks and earn at least 4 times your weekly benefit amount. If you are aware you do not meet the work search requirements when you certify for benefits through TeleServe you should answer "no" to the question regarding whether you conducted a systematic and sustained search for work. By answering no, you will be waiving payment for this week but this will prevent an indefinite denial for all future EB weeks.