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 (888) 337-7234 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:
(800) 662-3943 (TTY)
Have questions on eligibility? Click here.