How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in Illinois?

Illinois uses a very simple formula for determining unemployment insurance eligibility. The flat qualifying amount (FQA) method is utilized. You must earn a minimum of $1,600 within the entire base period to qualify. You must also earn an additional $440 in wages outside of your highest quarter wages.

Illinois offers both an extended base period and an alternate base period. The alternate base period uses the last four completed calendar quarters of the base period (instead of the first four). The extended base period is available to those workers who received disability under the Worker’s Compensation Act of the Occupational Diseases Act. If you qualify, your base period may be extended up to one year.

In Illinois an employer or employing unit is covered under unemployment insurance if it paid at least $1,500 in wages during any calendar quarter in the current or previous calendar year. Further, an employer/employing unit is also covered under unemployment insurance if it paid wages to at least one employee and employed said worker at least one day per week during the 20 weeks of the current or previous calendar year.



  • Christopher "Smith"

    I worked for a retail company for 6 years and was “displaced” due to management restructure across the entire company. I received unemployment for 26 weeks.. I was then hired at another company at the end of July. Then this retail company decided to close “this location” and will be losing this job at the end of October. I will have worked there for 90 days as a full time Supervisor. Will I be able to file unemployment from this job as I have already collected on the other job this year?

    • No. You cannot file another claim in Illinois until this current claim expires in 2018.

      • Christopher "Smith"

        I thought the first claim would be over since it was supposed to pay for 26 weeks only. There’s no extension or anything that can be done to the first claim then since I did get a job and will be losing it due to something out of my control?!?

        • There are no extensions. Congress discontinued that program in December 2013.

          You exhausted your benefits before the end of the benefit year. Regardless you have worked, you are not entitled to another claim in Illinois until those 52 weeks from when you first filed have elapsed. This is true in every state.

          Fyi – you can have two back-to-back claims in different states within the same 52-week period, but you cannot have more than one claim per individual state in the same 52-weeks. For example, had this most recent work been in Indiana, you could file in Indiana in October to capture earnings through 9/30/2017 – and ask Indiana for a combined-wage claim with the IL earnings remaining in your LAG (unused earnings Oct. 2016-Jan. 2017), assuming IL used its standard base period for the first claim.

          For now, you have no eligibility anywhere.

  • Monika

    According to our company policy there is 90 days probationary period. The employee can terminate their employment at any time but also we can let the employee go if he turns out to be not a good fit for the company. It is unclear to me if in the situation when we let the employee go, he can file for unemployment. The policy is explain to the employee at the time of hire. Any thoughts on that?

  • Myers H.

    I worked from April 2017 until August 2017 I was in a car wreck and my doctor took me off work well when I tried to go back to work they told me I was fired because I didn’t fill out family medical leave of absence papers which my supervisor never told me I needed to. Would I be able to get unemployment benefits?

    • Your medical reasons for your absences are qualifying. That said, employer will cite either rules violation or job abandonment. Either way, Illinois will deny on the employer’s word alone. You will need to appeal – and should win at appeal. The first denial is never cast in stone.

  • DO I fit the base period if I worked from March through JULy of this year??? BECAUSE. the base period laws are. confusing to me.

    • Did you work prior to March? If so, earnings going back to April 2016 will be included. Otherwise, IL will qualify you on earnings for quarter ending 3/31/2017 and 6/30/2017. You need to have earned at least $440 in the 3/31/2017 quarter, and $1,600 in the 6/30/2017 quarter. Apply for benefits.

  • Pat

    I started a job June 2016 and worked until August 2017 . They required I have a pharmacy technician license within one year of employment I took the test and failed it. I have been offered a seasonal job starting October 9th 2017 ending December 10th will that help me qualify for Illinois unemployment? Or do I need to accept the position that starts September 11th through December 10th?

    • What are you asking, specifically? It matters not if you take the job beginning in September or October. You will not get benefits until you’ve worked again and experienced another qualified separation.

  • Chris G

    My husband lost his job back June 2017. He had a salary based job for about a year… he was hired April 2016. They wanted to hire him as freelance but nothing has been planned. He has not applied for unemployment yet. Is it too late for him to file unemployment?

    • He can apply as long as he is unemployed and sufficient wages remain in his base period. IL requires two quarters of wages. If he applies now, IL will examine wages April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017. He is monetarily eligible and should apply now.

  • mike

    Il. If I was hired on 6/26 and got let go 10/26, do I qualify for anything?

    • Probably. Filing now, IL will require you have earnings in two quarters between 4/1/2016 and 3/31/2017. Your work history shows earnings in three quarters ending 6/30/2016, 9/30/2016, 12/31/2016. Read the first couple of paragraphs at the top of this page for dollar requirements. You should qualify. Apply now.

  • J J

    Would I qualify if I only worked 3 months and earned close to $4700

  • Nick Garner

    Can I get unemployment if I quit a job (worked there for 6 years) for another job, but then got laid off after 2 months? I live in Illinois

  • Juan cervantes

    I been working at this job for 3 years now but I found I better paying job they got 3 mouth of work for the season left would I still get to collect unemployment?

  • Cindy

    I am working on a trial basis and have not been offered the job but have been working approximately 15 hours per week the past 3 weeks. Am I eligible for benefits?

    • You need at least two quarters of earnings from other employers going back to 04/1/2016. Also, if you quit another job to take this one, you need to have worked at this job for four weeks and earned wages equal to your unemployment benefit in each of 4 weeks. Apply anyway. Let IL determine your eligibility.

  • Veronica Castro

    I have worked at my job for 5 yrs and now I don’t have no one to pick up my kids from school. They have bus transportation but I have 2 kids in 2 different schools and grades. My mom was my fulltime sitter but she no longer can sit them. My job has worked with me and letting me start later time due to drop off kids at school but they get off at 2 and 3:30 and that’s when we are busy I work for a small practice for internal medicine Dr. Can I collect unemployment in state of IL if I give my 2 weeks notice?

  • Michelle

    i have worked for a company since april i recently got fired because they said I called in 1 hour before my shift which I provided more them with evidence that i did not and also because i did not have a babysitter can i file for unemployment

  • Jessica

    Hi how lOng do you have to work to receive unemployment? I started back in November 2016 . But left for one month and re started on April 2017 .

  • Nancy Anne Woodford

    I am currently working, i am looking to switch to a job that lays off around November. I have worked all year. If i were to start the new job in August would i beable to collect in the state of illinois?

    • You will need to earn at this new job wages equal to your weekly benefit amount in each of 4 weeks before Illinois can pay you.

      Total your two highest quarter wages between July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017, divide by 26 to estimate your weekly benefit amount. If you worked this new job 3-4 four months, you should certainly have earned 4xWBA.

  • Lakiesha C

    In the state of IL, if you run out of unemployment and have not found any work, are there any other resources available to extend your claim? I am also waiting to start WIOA training soon are there any benefits there?

  • Ree M

    I worked as a babysitter for 6 weeks and made over $2k would I qualify for unemployment ?

    • Not unless employer paid into State of Illinois unemployment insurance. Most people who employ sitters don’t do that. It’s strictly cash work. Even then, these earnings need to have occurred $400/$1600 in two quarters. In other words, you earned $400 before 3/31 and $1,600 between 4/1-6/30. You would need to apply in July to have IL pick up the Mar-June earnings.

  • Lakeba Hunter

    Can you get unemployment benefits after a year if you still haven’t found employment?

  • Nicole

    Iam pregnant and did not know prior to getting hired at my job and i work with food i been awfully sick and iam border line preclymsia i been leaving early due to my symptoms and i work on a point based system i have one point left which i almost used all 8 points also because i have a sick son that just beat cancer and had to miss work for that reason as well it is out of my controll and if i get fired are my chamces of getting unemployment good i been there 3 months

  • Francine Shrewsbury

    My fiancee worked for an employer for approximately 16 weeks in 2016 in the state of Illinois and he Did meet the wages requirement. Is he eligible for unemployment benefits? Or would he had to have worked for at least 20 weeks?
    When completing the online application, it showed his approximate benefits at $0.

    • Does he comply with this:

      You must earn a minimum of $1,600 within the entire base period to qualify. You must also earn an additional $440 in wages outside of your highest quarter wages.

      If so, Illinois may not have his wages in its database and he will need to provide W2s and/or paystubs.

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