Illinois Unemployment Benefit Questions

Illinois Unemployment Benefit Questions

How can I find out how many weeks of benefits are left on my claim?

There are two ways to obtain your benefit payment history:

  • Get an online list of payments made to you and quickly view specific payment details including deductions, state and federal tax withholding and more. You will require your username and password.
  • Call Tele-Serve. The “status” of your claim can be quickly and safely determined by using the department’s voice-response system. Call Tele-Serve and choose Option 3 to check the status of your claim. Tele-Serve services are available from Monday through Friday, 5:00 AM – 7:30 PM, including state holidays.

I certified for benefits several weeks ago, but have not received any money. What do I do?

There are two methods of payment:

  • A direct deposit of funds into your bank account
  • Debit card

To see if a payment was made to your card, check the balance by calling the number on the back of the card. Debit cards are mailed automatically and you may initially be issued a debit card even if you applied for direct deposit. If you receive a debit card, you should activate it and use it until a direct deposit has started.

If you certified several weeks ago and did not receive a payment, contact the Claimant Service Center.

How much employment will I get in Illinois?

How much unemployment insurance you will collect depends on how much money you earned during your base period. The base period is the first four complete calendar quarters out of the last five before you file your initial claim. Your weekly benefit amount will be calculated by taking the total earnings of your two highest grossing quarters, multiplying that number by 47 percent, and then dividing it by 26—the number of weeks you can collect regular unemployment insurance.

The maximum amount a claimant can collect per week is $742. Use the Illinois unemployment calculator to determine what your WBA should be, and file a dispute if you are not awarded this amount when you receive your monetary determination in the mail.

When do I get paid?

Benefit payments in Illinois are paid biweekly. Payments are made at the end of the week, and you cannot receive benefits if you have not filed your bi-weekly claim. Filing this claim involves reporting any wages you have earned while collecting unemployment. It also means answering a few questions regarding your work search.

If you have filed your claim and payment is issued, it will either be sent as a direct deposit right into your checking or savings account, or sent to your address as a paper check. Unlike many other states, Illinois does not offer an unemployment debit card and discontinued debit card usage after December 21, 2021. Claimants receiving unemployment benefits are encouraged to get them via the direct deposit method.

What does it mean to be willing and able to work?

Being able and willing to work means you are physically and mentally fit enough to take work that is comparable to your last form of employment. Lack of childcare for healthy dependents or lack of transportation are not valid excuses for refusing a new suitable job.

You are not able and willing to work if you are a full time student, or needed as a homemaker. If you are away on vacation, or temporarily sick, you are also not willing and able to work. If you have unreasonable expectations about the wages, hours, or work conditions of a new job, you are also considered unwilling to work.

If you have dependents who are sick or need you at home, or your health is compromised and preventing you from holding gainful employment, you should look into something like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Can I get unemployment in Illinois if I was fired?

Filing an Illinois unemployment weekly claim (actually bi-weekly) is absolutely for individuals who were fired from their employment. However, individuals must have been fired through no fault of their own. This means that excessive absence or tardiness resulting in your termination may preclude you from collecting benefits.

Getting in a fight at work, destroying property, or failing to exercise reasonable due diligence (in other words, being grossly negligent) may also prevent you from collecting unemployment. If you show up to work and perform the duties outlined in your job description to the best of your ability, but are still not able to satisfactorily meet the reasonable expectations of your employer, or you were subjected to a layoff or reduced hours, unemployment insurance is available.

What happens during the phone interview?

When you file your initial unemployment claim, certain answers to questions (all of which you must answer honestly) may prompt the Illinois Department of Employment Security to do a little more research to verify your application details. You may be requested to participate in a phone interview, or in rare incidences, an in-person interview at an IDES office.

Make yourself available for the date and time specified on the Notice of Interview, or promptly return the Request for Change of Interview Date if that date and time will not work for you. Be prepared to discuss your work history, including any work you performed since certifying for bi-weekly benefits (if applicable). Be prepared to discuss your work search activities as well. They may also want to discuss the reason for your termination at your most recent place of employment, as well as any reasons why you are not taking seemingly suitable new work.

What if my Illinois unemployment claim is denied?

If your Illinois unemployment claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. Consult the document Preparing for Your Appeal Hearing, which is available on the IDES website. You may also call the unemployment office customer care number. If you are denied unemployment benefits, a denial letter will be sent to you.

Follow the instructions in this letter and return your request for an appeal within 30 days of the date on the letter. You may send it to the address or the fax number specified in your letter. However, even if you decide to file an appeal, you should continue to file your bi-weekly claim for benefits so that you can be awarded back benefits if your claim is justified. Otherwise, you may lose out on those benefits.

What happens if you are overpaid unemployment benefits?

If IDES has determined that you have been improperly paid unemployment insurance benefits, the amount of the overpayment will appear on the Notice of Reconsidered Determination and Recoupment Decision (Form 275D).

By law, you must repay the entire amount you owe [Section 900 of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act (820 ILCS 405/900)]. If you are unable to pay the entire amount in one lump sum, you may enter into a monthly installment plan. You can make those arrangements by calling Benefit Overpayment Collection:

Have questions on eligibility? Click here.

  1. My husband had a fall and has a traumatic brain injury and can’t be left by himself for his confusion and safety and I have to take care of him and my 12 week fmla leave at work is over- can I receive unemployment if I have to quit my job because I have no one else to stay and take care of him?

    • Hi, Tracey – your best bet is to visit, first, with the HR department of your company to find out if you have any other otions they will support, like remote work, or any assistance they can help you find for taking care of your husband. You may be surprised to learn that they have employee assistance programs in place that may be helpful for you, so definitely check on that before you decide to quit your job. In addition, you can connect with someone in the Illinois unemployment office to discuss the specifics of your case. In some cases, it’s possible to quit your job to care for an ailing family member and still be found eligible for benefits, as long as you meet other eligibility requirements.

  2. If I started my unemployment claim in February and haven’t collected anything as of yet. I just got my certification and it shows Feb 2022- Feb 2023 is my dates I can get unemployment, does that mean I get backpay because it is September and haven’t gotten any payment from unemployment yet even though it states I started in February.

    • Hi, Gary – for information specific to your claim, you’ll need to connect with someone in the Illinois unemployment benefits office. You can reach them for Unemployment Insurance inquiries, including questions about claims, certification and Direct Deposit, or to certify for benefits online, by visiting or calling Claimant Services to speak to a representative at 1-800-244-5631 (TTY 1-866-322-8357).

  3. My payments stopped/were paused last year due to a (mistaken!) fraud charge. That charge has been nullified. Will I receive payments from during the time they were paused?

    • How do I check the status of my claim before I receive the letter in the mail I tried called the number provided for that but it will not work for me

      • Hi, Madison – there are two ways to check the status of an unemployment claim in Illinois prior to receiving your letter. If you’ve already tried the telephone number with no success, you can try checking status online. Here are the instructions: You can visit the website for the Illinois Department of Employment Security and access your claim information daily except for between 8 p.m to 10 p.m. local time. If you applied for unemployment online, you’ll already have your user name and password. Otherwise, you can find a link to register for an online account if you had applied by phone. Once you log in, you’ll see your claim and check its status as well as check your payment history and certify for benefits in the future.

  4. I certified this week but didn’t get paid as usual, does it mean the govt stopped paying already? i thought it stops by September 4th

    • Franklin,

      If you have weeks remaining to be paid, you should receive the payment. If you haven’t yet received the monies, please check the status online.

      • I have been out of work since June of last year. Are the extra benefit programs exhausted in Illinois? Like, is my unemployment done with?

        • Brett,

          Please check for the availability of extended benefits on the official website. You might want to log in to your account to check.

  5. I just certified for first time on my pua claim on Sunday but I still haven’t received my payments and it is now Thursday. When I check it says pending issues on payment status . Does anyone know what this means? Does it take longer to be put on idea debit card? Thanks.

  6. Filed for unemployment received debit card but no letter. Filed for pua benefits on 7/17/20 getting the run around and been waiting for supervisor to call back nothing yet despite several people saying that I’m on the list status say active payments say pending. what do I do

    • I’m in the same exact boat . My regular unemployent benefits were exhausted so I was told by a ides agent to apply for pua nd I did the 17th just like you ! I said great I did just finally now get to certify on last sunday for three weeks also shows me my maximum balance of 6,000$ and 198$ a week 31 weeks remaining . No hold on my.payment I did everything I was told and read to do .. it’s sad because I’kno i am only 28 with a 7 year old but I’ve worked since I was 15 years old never have stopped .honest to God .. saying good bye to my job I lost myself I lost alot .. it just sucks that these people that really don’t need or deserve this money or it’s just extra to them “most stingy ppl ?” like us we need it.. please anyone hears anything knows anything new bout pua in illinois I defintly could use some helo much appreacieted

  7. I am trying to file my claim, but it keeps looking for spouse information. I can’t find the location to say that I am single. It is not on my profile page.

    • I was approved n money was sent the next day but still haven’t receive my debit card and can’t get ahold of anyone don’t know if it’s lost or on its way I cartified April 7 th n still no card

      • Joe,

        I can understand your situation. Please wait. There will be thousands of applications for the office to be processed. Make sure to check the status at regular intervals.

    • My online application also won’t let me file as single. I can’t find the location to say I’m single, either.

      • Grace,

        Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. You can use the “Resources” or “FAQs” section of the website.

    • My income has decreased due to shorter hours on my check. Do I have to be completely unemployed for the waiting week or can I still receive a partial paycheck during the waiting week?

    • Christine,

      I hope you were able to fix the issue. If you continue facing it, please call the Claims Center for help.

      • The card has arrived but there is no one taking calls to activate my card due to covid19 even though it says it’s a 24/7 service. The automated message does not provide hours of operation. I can’t use my card or the benefits

        • Lance,

          Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. You can use the “Resources” or “FAQs” section of the website.

  8. I wanted to know why the IDES website shows money has been deposited on my debit card but when you check the card it shows a zero balance.???

  9. If I certified for the first 2 weeks for benefits, but payment was withheld because a determination was pending, and two weeks later I certified again and a determination was made that I was eligible, will I receive payment for the previous weeks I certified?

        • My wife retired on MRF when she was 56 duE TO THE THE DEATH OF OUR SON. over the last couple years she has been searching for a job but to no avail. Would she be eligible for unemployment?

        • Jefferey,

          To qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits, a claimant is required to have active employment and earnings in the last 4-5 calendar quarters.

        • If the waiting week is done, they will start issuing payments as per the turn around time. You can call the Claims Center for specific details.

    • Andrea,

      If you were fired due to voluntary reasons such as performance issues, you might not qualify. If it was involuntary, we suggest you apply at the earliest.

  10. My company is closing for a remodel. I will be out of work for 6-8 weeks
    I will be out of work starting April 6th 2017. How soon can I file for unemployment so I don’t have to go without being paid for an extended period
    of time?
    Also, if an employee has their hours cut substantially can they work and get unemployment benefits as well?

    • A claimant can be eligible to receive UI benefits for loss in the standard hours. I am not sure if he/she will be eligible to claim during a shutdown.

      Please call the Unemployment Office.

  11. is there a certain tme you have to certify every two weeks, yesterday waqs my certify week I kinda did it round 7 or 8 o clock an today was my pay out an I never received its says issued but pending debit card

  12. after your week waiting period. are then you paid for 2 weeks weeks unemployment provided you meet the qualifications? or is the first one only one week. this would be week 3 of Unemployment.

  13. Can I receive Unemployment Benefits if I failed and got fired after a Alcohol breath test but recently had a evaluation and are to undergo outpatient treatment for alcoholism

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.


    • Well, each state has its own rules when it comes to collecting both SS and UI. Not sure of how it works in your state.

      Please call the Unemployment Office.

  15. i am currently receiving social security benefits on my husband death i was just laid off from my job can i collect unemployment benefits and social security under my husband social security?

    • Not sure if you can do so.
      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state to confirm and apply accordingly if permissible.

  16. I recently purchased a retail store and kept all of the current employees. After careful review I have determined that most of the employees were being well over paid by the previous owner. If I offer my employees to keep their current position at a reduction in wages, are they able to collect unemployment?

    • Well, the state provides UI benefits for reduction in the standard hours worked. Generally, reduction in wages does not make them eligible.

      Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  17. I worked through a temp. service they found me a job, after my 90 days the company liked me and wanted to hire me in the only thing my boss said to me when he said he would hire me in as long as i dont collect unemployment from him when the season gets slow this was a verbal agreement 9 months later i was fired for helping my 15 yr old sons friend do a homework assignment. it goes further than the assignment i call it retaliation against me for something else that happened prior at the company (family owned) & that was the only thing they had to fire me because my attendance was really good/good at my job.can i be denied unemployment for helping my son friend on the homework assignment. nothing illegal all i had to do was to answer questions about what i did at my job. if i knew i could be fired for that then i wouldnt help my sons friend.

    • You cant be denied for personal reasons. As long as you were on the rolls of the company, you can be eligible.

  18. My wife works at NIU but lives in Wisconsin. If her university closes this fall due to the budget impasse, will she be eligible for unemployment compensation, and if so for how many weeks?

    • Please check with the Unemployment Office in your state. She may be eligible for UI benefits.

      “How Many” is something that depends on the processing.

  19. I missed my call day Monday , but filed the same week Thurs. Status says deposited but , but when I call my card the money is not there ?

  20. i worked for a company for 2 years then went on maternity leave. I have a release to go back to work but the director keeps avoiding putting me on the schedule and when i went to look at it I saw new people hired!!! I filed for unemployment and now they are saying i “voluntary quit” so now i have a phone interview and dont know what to expect!! HELP

    • Well, prepare yourself for the interview. Present facts with regard to how you wanted to go back to work and the director is not cooperating.

      If they still deny, ask for an adjudicator.

  21. I have been just laid off from work for the next (2) weeks, so how long do I need to wait before I apply for unemployment benefits?

  22. In a sales job, if your terminated just for coming up 1 deal short, would you still qualify for unemployment insurance?

  23. I was fired from my job after working there for 10 years. My coworker made a mistake and we were both punished for it. I was an outstanding employee my record clean except for a incident that happened 6 years ago. That they used as a reason to fire me. Am I still eligible for benefits?

    • Depends. If there is no negligence involved before you were fired, you can be eligible.

      However, you may have to prove your stand in case of a dispute.

  24. I am Currently employed , but my hours have been cut down dramatically, can I file and be eligible for unemployment or any other aid in order to help me until I can find a job with more hours??

  25. I am receiving Illinois unemployment and recently received a workers’ compensation settlement from my attorney. Do I need to report this amount and will it affect my unemployment?

  26. If a family member has a terminal illness and is getting their arm cut off can I leave work to care for them and collect unemployment benefits and if yes how long?

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  27. I was injured at my job now I can no longer perform that type of work so I resigned. I am actively looking for different work. Can I get unemployment while I’m looking for work?

  28. I have been scheduled 42 hours weekly for 13 years but have worked many more.I had coronary bypass surgery on May 28th 2015 and have been on FMLA leave for 8 weeks.Since I have been released back to work my hours will be cut.How many hours below 40 hours weekly can my employer cut me before I become eligible for unemployment benefits.

  29. We have an employee who filed for unemployment benefits starting 6/10/15. While she is not currently working, she continues to get paid by our company until 8/30/15. Can she claim unemployment and still be getting paid?

    • I don’t think she can claim if she is getting paid. Please report it to the relevant authority.

      Ideally, she can only claim after the salary period ends.

  30. I have worked for a union pension fund for 8 years and 8 months, they are going to outsource my accounting department. I have 90 days to find a new job or will be forced to take the receptionist position and a pay cut of 10.00 per hour. Can I file for unemployment benefits after 90 days? I have made 23.33 per hour for 7 years at the organization, own my home and have a car payment.

    • If you’re laid off, you can be eligible. Voluntary resignations do not qualify.

      Please tread carefully.

  31. I have quit my job because my husband’s job is relocating us to Kansas City Missouri.I gave my two weeks notice and my last day is June 27th. Will I be able to draw unemployment while looking for a new job.The commute would be four hours. Thank you.

  32. Soon to be laid off and will get called back but not sure of a return date, how many consecutive weeks can someone collect unemployment until called back?

    • The max. number of weeks is something that is dependent on various factors.

      Generally its up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

  33. If I worked 5 months of last year in another state and worked 7 months in IL how do I file a claim?

  34. I files for my last 2 weeks of unemployment though they don’t show in the payment history tab on the website. Will I be paid for these last two weeks? The automated service accepted my claim.

    • Involuntary termination of employment will lead to negative impression when your claim is processed.

  35. I was let go from a job after working there for 14 years. It was basically a setup. One employee did not like me and so she managed to convince the VP that I was negligent I was called into the office because they said I had not completed a fire drill. I was told to do the drill and submit the paperwork on the day it was first to be completed. I did what was asked and then they stated that I was falsifying records and they terminated me. I had just found out that my mom had cancer and was very vulnerable at the time. An unemployment hearing was held and I was denied any unemployment. Is there anything I can do ? I went back to school but have since run out of money I have not had a job since December 31 2012.

    • Of course you can.

      Please ask for an adjudicator in this regard. Each state has a well defined adjudication procedure which will address any disputes.You can call the customer service or find the procedure on the website of the labor dept in your state.

  36. I waited for the phone interview on 03/20/2014. I contacted the office, and was informed that the interviewer will contacted me.I have not been contacted as of 03/24/2014. I see now that my house phone is not on.I also see that my cell phone was taken. The only form of communication is email. Bennie A Alex

    • Please contact the claims center on (800) 244-5631 immediately to appraise them about your situation.Let them know that you had a genuine issue.

  37. I resigned from my company because the company got rid of all its employees and contracted out all its work the company said I could do maintenance on its rental proprieties if I would do it as a contractor I agreed to it because I wanted to continue working and tried to take some college courses. I worked as a contractor for the company for 4 months the company put the rental property up for sale and laid me off. I filed for unemployment for the 2 years I worked. am I eleigiable for benefits or was I just tricked out of benefits from unemployment benefits

    • If you’ve filed for UI benefits in your state, please wait for them to respond to your claim.They will communicate the status/feedback regularly.Follow up if needed.

  38. If I certify on december 23rd and I receive my benefits on a debit card, will I my unemployment benefits be put on my card before christmas?

  39. I received unemployment for 6 months and found a job. I’ve only worked at this company for 60 days but found out that I may be let go. I’m still in the training process and was wondering if I can resume my unemployment benefits. I’m in Illinois and haven’t been given any reasons for my possible dismissal.

  40. I moved here 10 months ago from Illinois and was just told my contract won’t be renewed January 1st. Do I apply for unemployment here in Indiana or Illinois?

  41. I was fired from a job, which up until terminated, I was an “exemplary” employee. I was in mgmt/HR Director. I treated the company like my own, worked hours not paid for & because it was a “family” business… Pres was Father in Law of the Plant mgr, I was let go because the Plant mgr yelled & cursed at his employees, degraded them constantly, would fire people, admittedly, because he didn’t like them. I tried in professional ways to guide him to comply with HR rules. After months of no progress, I took the situation to the president. The Plant mgr of course found out & told me I was finished!! I threw him under the bus with the President & he wasn’t going to work with me any longer. Called me several names I can’t publish here & told me,”just wait & see, I will win this one. I am family in case you didn’t know that”. So it was, 2 days later the President terminated me as it was apparent there was “irreparable” damage between the Plant mgr & myself. Now they are contesting my unemployment for “misconduct”. To be clear, during my horrible meeting with the plant mgr, I never said a word. I didn’t act out. Anyone have any input? Do they have a chance at my not getting the unemployment? I am mortified. Sorry for the book. Also, during my time there (only 5 months) I brought their HR system to compliance, saved them thousands in potential fines with OSHA & HIPPA, saved them fines for the upcoming Obamacare & got them through an intense Vendor audit, that no other location had passed. Does this even matter?? Any advise is helpful.

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