Illinois Unemployment Weekly Claims
What happens after I apply for Illinois UI benefits?
The first thing you must do after filing your claim for Illinois unemployment insurance benefits is to wait. Your claim will be reviewed, and in most cases, a claimant should receive an eligibility determination letter within seven to 10 days of submitting their initial unemployment claim.
This official documentation is your UI Finding, and it typically outlines the determination the Illinois Department of Employment Security has issued, plus your base period wages, your weekly benefit amount, and your bi-weekly certification day.
In some cases, an adjudication interview may be necessary to determine your Illinois unemployment eligibility. If this is the case, you will be notified by mail with the date and time of your scheduled eligibility interview. Please note that this interview is essential to your receiving your UI benefits – if you cannot make yourself available at the date and time of your scheduled interview, you must contact IDES as soon as possible using the Change of Interview form that was included with your notification.
Once you are approved for Illinois unemployment benefits, you will certify your information every two weeks in order to receive your benefit payment. The term “certify” or “claim certification” is used to describe how you claim weeks of unemployment and received benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements.
You must certify your benefits on your assigned certification day, which will be Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday – but if you miss your assigned day, you can certify on either Thursday or Friday. You’ll need to be prepared to report all gross wages earned during the certification period – that’s the amount of income before taxes and any other deductions are subtracted from your earnings. Please note that wages need to be reported for the week in which they are earned – not necessarily the week you’re paid for them.
In addition to reporting any earnings for the certification period, you’ll need to answer questions about your availability to accept suitable employment during the certification period, along with what kind of work search efforts you undertook during that time frame.
Once you are clear to receive unemployment benefits, the next step is to prepare yourself for weekly certification. In order to keep receiving an unemployment check every week you must file a weekly claim or continued claim or weekly certification.
How to certify for Illinois unemployment benefits
The state of Illinois allows you to certify your eligibility for unemployment benefits either online or over the phone. Regardless of how you certify, you’ll need to submit information that shows you are remaining compliant with certification requirements. For example, you will be required to answer questions about whether you earned any pension, holiday, or other part-time pay and if so, how much.
You will be asked whether your dependency status has changed, and you’ll be required to describe your Illinois unemployment work search efforts during the certification period. You’ll need to provide information about any classes you may have attended during the certification period and you’ll be asked to verify your correct mailing address and telephone number. In addition, you’ll need to certify that you were available and able to work throughout the duration of the certification period.
How to certify online
The state of Illinois recommends that the best way to certify your benefits is to do so online through the IDES website from 3 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on your designated certification day. To do so, you must set up an ILogin account, which you’ll typically do when you submit your initial unemployment claim. This is the case whether you are a new or existing benefits recipient.
ILogin is an identity verification process that is integrated with the online Illinois unemployment application and offers a seamless and secure way to access all personal information associated with your account. When you register with ILogin for the first time, you’ll be asked to follow to validate your identity. Once this account is created, you can use it to access your IDES account as well as other Illinois state services.
How to certify over the phone with Tele-Serve
If certifying for benefits isn’t available to you, it’s also possible to certify for benefits over the phone with the Illinois Tele-Serve service. The first time you call, you will be asked to create a personal identification number (PIN), which you will need each time you call to certify for benefits.
Each time you call, you should make sure you have several pieces of important personal information available. These include your Social Security number and the amount of gross wages you earned from any employer during the certification period. Before you call, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have a pen or pencil and paper close at hand so that you can write down any information shared with you during your call.
To certify, you’ll dial the Tele-Serve number – 312-338-4337 – enter your PIN and then answer the automated questions. The number is available to you from 3 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Below is a list of questions that will be asked during the certification process. Review and prepare the answers before you certify to ensure quick, accurate certification. Your answers to the questions will determine your eligibility for benefits. Also, depending on the program from which you are receiving benefits, you may be asked additional questions.
1. Have you received or will you receive holiday pay during the period of Sunday (week 1 beginning date) through Saturday (week 2 ending date)?
Tip: Make sure you have your holiday pay amount available.
If yes, enter the gross amount of your holiday pay (before deductions) for each week.
2. Did you work during the period of Sunday (week 1 beginning date) through Saturday (week 2 ending date)? Tip: Have your gross earnings before taxes and other deductions available.
If yes, enter the total amount of earnings (before deductions) for each week.
3. Has your dependency status changed during this certification period?
Were you able and available to work each day during your normal work week?
If no, enter the number of days you were unavailable for work in each of the weeks.
4. Did you actively look for work for the week of Sunday (week 1 beginning date) through Saturday (week 2 ending date)?
5. Are you receiving or have you applied for primary Social Security benefits?
6. Other than Social Security, are you receiving or have you applied for a retirement or disability pension?
If yes, has the amount changed?
7. Did you attend school or receive training?
If yes, did you attend all scheduled training courses?
If no, enter the number of days that you did not attend class.
8. Do you have a current workers’ compensation claim or do you expect to receive workers’ compensation for a temporary disability?
These questions not only talk about what will be asked, they are a useful insight into how you must prepare yourself during the week and also what should be done each week to receive benefits continually.
How do I get paid Illinois unemployment benefits?
You have two options when it comes to receiving your benefit payment. First, you may choose direct deposit, which the state of Illinois prefers and strongly encourages. You’ll have the option to sign up for direct deposit when you file your initial claim. With this option, you’ll see your unemployment insurance benefits payments automatically deposited into your account for each certification period.
If direct deposit isn’t an option for you, you also may choose to have a paper check mailed to you. For each certification period, you can expect to see your UI benefits within eight days of certifying if you choose to receive your payment via check, and within two to three days after certifying if you choose the direct deposit option.
As of December 27, 2021, IDES no longer issues debit cards as a payment option. You can only choose direct deposit (highly encouraged) or a paper check sent in the mail.
Please keep in mind that your first eligible week of a new benefit claim is considered a waiting week, which means that no benefits will be paid for that week.
Returning to Work
The ultimate goal of participating in the Illinois UI benefits program is eventually to return to work. When that happens, you’ll need to share your employer information with the Illinois Department of Employment Security immediately so that you aren’t suspected of committing unemployment fraud.
Illinois law requires every employer to submit names of new hires to the IDES office and to pay unemployment tax on their behalf. So if an employer submits your name as a new hire, and you are still collecting UI benefits, you can get in serious trouble. Report your new job to IDES immediately, and if you receive an overpayment due to an honest mistake, be sure to promptly return the money.