Illinois Unemployment – Know Your Rights

  Last Verified: January 2017  

In December 2016, the state legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner worked together to bring additional unemployment benefit weeks to workers laid off after the Steel Mill in Granite City, IL shut down. The law allowed 2,000 workers to collect an additional 26 weeks of benefit payments going into the holiday season. For Illinois workers, it was heartening to see a government responsive to a volatile economy.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is responsible for handling unemployment claims and benefits throughout the entire state. The state funded unemployed insurance is meant strictly for individuals who are temporarily out of work due to qualifying circumstances. In order to apply for Illinois Seal of Illinoisunemployment benefits, you must meet certain criteria.

Eligibility Requirements in IL

In order to be eligible for Illinois unemployment benefits you must meet the following standards:

  • You must meet the wage requirement by having earned enough wages from an employer covered by the unemployment law in the past 18 months
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • You must be able and available to work
  • You must be allowed to work in the US legally and be an Illinois resident

You must meet the wage requirement. Then, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) examiners will look at the circumstances of your dismissal and other issues to determine eligibility. When you file for benefits, you must register with the IDES’s job search website.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Able and Available to Work

You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file your initial claim. You must be available to accept suitable employment; a job you are trained to do, capable of performing and one that pays a similar salary to your own. The longer you’re unemployed, you’ll be expected to accept jobs that pay less.

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

Your actions or decisions cannot be the cause of your separation from work. If the shop moved to a new city or the employer had no work for you, you may be qualified if otherwise eligible.

Wage Requirement and the Base Period

The IDES will observe if you have any wages from “covered employers.” Covered employers are businesses required to pay unemployment insurance taxes. Some occupations and employers are not covered. If you worked for one of these employers, you will not be eligible to collect unemployment insurance.

The state will look at your wages over a 12-month period called “the base period.” Your base period will be the first four out of the last five quarters you worked prior to the date you filed your initial claim for benefits.

unemployment base period

This chart shows the base period.


  • You must earn at least $1,600 during the base period
  • Excluding the quarter where you earned the most money, you must have earned at least $440.

The IDES may require additional information from you regarding your claim if there are separation issues and your employer protests the benefit award, or you provided information they could not confirm. You may even be called after a weekly certification. You must respond when they request to speak with you in person or face loosing benefits.

Unemployment Benefit Amount in Illinois

The IDES will use the base period wages to calculate your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The amount will equal 47% of the average of your wages in the two highest earning quarters of the base period divided by 26 (the maximum amount of weeks you may receive benefits is 26).

You may claim dependents on your claim, just as you would for taxes. However, you can only claim either a spouse as a dependent or children, not both.

The state provides a chart to allow you to estimate your Illinois WBA. This chart includes the maximum amount you can receive. As of 2017, the max WBA for an individual is $449. The max with a spousal dependent is $535. The max WBA using children as dependents is $613.

How to Apply

In Illinois, you have a couple different options for applying for unemployment insurance. If you have internet access, the simplest way is to apply online at:

The other option you have is to visit an IDES office in person to apply. However, if you apply in person you can expect to wait in line. You can find the nearest IDES office using the office locator here: The office hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30AM-5:00 PM. In order to ensure prompt service, make sure to have the required information when you arrive. You will need:

  • Your name and SSN
  • Name, date of birth and SSN of any dependents you claim
  • Two forms of ID (one must have your SSN on it)
  • Name, address, phone numbers, and dates worked for all employers in the past 18 months. You will also need to state the reason why you are no longer working with these companies.
  • If filing for unemployment the same week your employment ended, you must provide your gross income for all days worked that week
  • Recently separated veterans must bring the Member 4 Copy of their DD form 214 / 215
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen you must have your alien registration card
  • If you are filing for unemployment benefits but live out of state, this link will be helpful:

Get unemployment benefits in Illinois

Receiving your Benefits

By default, IDES issues payments to a prepaid debit card. However, you also have the option of choosing direct depot which you can apply for after you’ve been approved for your benefits. You can apply for direct deposit here:

Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Certifications

In order to receive continuing benefits you must certify for benefits on a regular basis. IDES will let you know your certification date when they send your approval letter. Your certifications will be done every two weeks on the date that Illinois assigns you. If you fail to certify, you will not receive your payments. You can certify online or you may call in to certify.

Certifying Online:

Certify by phone: 1-888-337-7234. You may call to certify Monday-Friday from 5AM-7:30PM

The IDES telephone and online systems will ask you questions when you certify weekly. These questions are designed to determine whether you remain eligible for benefits.

  • Are you able and available to work?
  • Have you started or quit a job?
  • Have you refused a job offer?
  • Did you earn any wages or receive any income?
  • Have you participated in any training?
  • Are you currently looking for work?

The questions will be phrased differently and there will be more of then; however, they seek this kind of information. Some answers may cause the system to direct you to speak with a customer service representative. You may be scheduled for an in person meeting.

You may find additional information on weekly certifications in pamphlet form at the IDES site.

Work Search Requirement

The IDES requires registration with as a prerequisite for filing a claim for benefits. If you receive benefits, you have to show you continue a serious job search each week.

Initially, you will only have to look for “suitable employment.” That’s a job that you are trained to do that pays in the same range of salary you received previously. If you receive extended benefits, you will have to look for work outside your experience and pay range.

If you use the employment services at Illinois Job Link, you will automatically create a record of evidence that you’ve been looking for work. You should keep a record of any job contacts or applications you make that doesn’t involve Job Link. The IDES may request evidence of your job searches at any time.

Part-time Work and Receiving Benefits

You may work part-time in Illinois and continue to receive benefits as long as you don’t earn more in wages than your WBA (you do not have to count the dependent allowance in determining this).

If you earn more than 50% of your WBA, but less than your WBA minus the dependent allowance, the state will deduct from your WBA. The state will deduct the amount you earned above 50% of the WBA.

If your WBA is $100, and you make $55 in one week, the state will deduct $5 from your WBA that week. You will keep the $55 you earned, but your WBA that week will be $95.

You must report any wages earned during the week you earned them, not the week you were paid.

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

The IDES claims examiner will deny benefits if you fail to meet the threshold requirement of wage eligibility. If you don’t have enough wages during your base period, the state will deny your claim. You will have the opportunity to request a redetermination of your wages, but you must present new information or show an error in the state’s calculation.

Most denials occur because of separation issues. This means that the claims examiner determined that your actions or decisions, related to your work, caused your separation from employment.

If you quit because you decided to go back to school, it may seem like a good cause for you. However, it is a decision that relates to you, not to your employer.

If your employer cited you for violating their policy over and over, and gave you repeated warnings, your actions caused your separation. This would be “misconduct connected to the work.”

The state may deny benefits based on non-separation issues as well. If you do not look for work or refuse suitable employment, they may deny benefits. Remember, suitable employment generally is a job you are trained to do and pays wages you are accustomed to. Some jobs are not “suitable employment” despite being similar to your old jobs.

  • Jobs intended to break a union dispute
  • Jobs too dangerous or which violate one of your Constitutional rights (like free exercise of religion)
  • Jobs that would prevent your right to collective bargaining (stop you from joining a union)

If you are disqualified because of separation issues or refuse a suitable job offer, you will have to requalify for benefits by earning wages for four-weeks equal to your WBA. Then if you become unemployed, you must be otherwise eligible.

Quit and Still Eligible

  • In Illinois, you may quit for some reasons, but remain eligible for benefits.
  • Had to leave to escape domestic violence
  • Evidence of sexual harassment on the job
  • You found a new job
  • Had to move because a military spouse relocates due to military orders

There are other circumstances that may qualify as a good cause to quit work. For example, if your employer forced you to work under unsafe conditions, you may be eligible for benefits if you made an effort to remedy the situation.

Fired and Still Eligible

Your employer may have dismissed you for violating an employer policy. However, your actions may not fit the definition of “misconduct connected to work” the IDES employs. You may have violated a rule once, and your employer fired you. Unless this one-time violation is particularly serious, the state may not consider it to be misconduct.

What Happens When Benefits are Denied: The Appeals Process

In the event that you are declined for benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision.  If you disagree with a Monetary Determination issue, you may request a redetermination. You should be able to show new information or why there was an error.

You may file an appeal to any decision by the IDES. You have 30 days from the mailing date on the Notice of Determination you receive to file your appeal to the Appeals Division.

Chicago Office:
IDES Appeals Division
33 S State St, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-2802
Springfield Office:
IDES Appeals Division
607 East Adams, 9th Floor
Springfield, IL  62701​

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Illinois.

Other Important Information

As with unemployment claims in other states, Illinois requires that you are actively seeking work while collecting unemployment. If it is found that you have not been attempting to find work, benefits can be ended. You must register for work through IDES as well.

Also, if you are working part time while receiving benefits you must report your earnings to IDES. Failing to do so is considered fraud and can result in:

  • Jail/Prison time
  • Governmental prosecution
  • Inability to receive benefits in the future
  • Penalties, Fines, and repayment of all benefits received
  • Losing your future income tax refunds

Helpful Resources

Here are some links that will be useful if you’re considering filing for Illinois unemployment.

IDES Official Site:

All IDES Contact Information

File an appeal:

Necessary Forms:

File for Benefits:


Phone: (800) 244-5631

Illinois Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook:

Find out Which Illinois Employers are having layoffs

Job Search and Training


  • Mrs. E.

    Is a person who was fired from a full time job due to becomng incarcerated for less than one year eligible for unemployment benefits?

  • Lenora Jarvis

    I quit one job for a better paying one, but after one week I was terminated because my supervisor felt I wouldn’t be able to work at their pace. I was still in training. I applied for unemployment benefits but was denied because I did not work on the new job for two weeks. My question is should I appeal this decision?

    • Per USDOL, IL requires wages in each of four weeks following a quit. You can appeal and plead substantially better pay, etc., but there are no guarantees Illinois will recognize that as a good cause quit. Not every state does. No harm trying, however.

  • Urszula

    Hi Daphne,

    I’m working on a contract position for a recruiting agency which lends labor to a large pharma company in IL. I know my contract is ending by the end of this month and I would like to know if I qualify for unemployment in case my contract is not extended and I cannot find a different job.
    The contracting agency is located in Cali. Is there a specific tax they have to pay so that I would be eligible for unemployment?

    Thank you

    • Apply in Illinois and don’t worry about the ‘tax.’ Chances are your agency has been reporting your wages to and paying tax to IL. You may need to provide paystubs if IL shows no wages for you. More important is your other work history. If you have two good quarters of wages going back to 4/01/2016, apply now. If not, wait until first week in October to apply when IL can consider wages through 9/30/2017.

  • Courtney

    My husband is a CDL driver for a company who recycles refrigeration units. He is not paid salary or by the hour. He is paid by the unit. Recently his company moved to another state and has been slowly letting go of employees to give their jobs to independent contractors. My husband is now being effected by this. He is going on day 4 of no work. They have not officially laid him off though. Instead they are holding onto him by paying 8 units a day. This is a huge drop in pay as prior he was doing 100 units a week and is now being paid for 40 units a week. That more than halfs his pay. Is he stuck accepting this until they finally just lay him off or can he apply for unemployment now? He’d make more on unemployment than they are paying him.

    • He should apply for benefits now on the basis of reduced work while wages in his base period remain high. The longer he earns less, the lower his weekly benefit will be as the higher earnings age out of his base period.

      IL will pay a weekly benefit + 50% from which it will deduct his earnings. Maximum IL benefit is $449/wk, which means the partial benefit rate is $673.50 ($449+50%), from which IL will deduct his earnings.

  • Marvin French

    Our employer has been late with our pay for six out of the last seven pay periods, and he hasn’t paid us for the last two. Our last pay was 29 days ago. He says he has cash flow problems, and he doesn’t know when he’ll get enough money to pay us. I’ve begun looking for another job, but the prospects are limited and I haven’t found anything yet. Can I quit “for good cause” and receive unemployment until I find something else? At least I would have some money to pay bills in the meantime. Thanks in advance.

  • James Beck

    Below is the email I just sent to the folks at Job Link. You can readily see what the problem is…..

    One of the documents you have mailed me regarding my unemployment claim tells me I MUST register with Job Link no later than “5:00 pm on 09/04/2017.” I have been trying to do so since I got the document. The problem is, you gave me a user name in your documentation but NO PASSWORD! When I try to retrieve a password on the Job Link site, it asks for my date of birth exactly the way I entered it when I registered. Well, I have not yet registered in Job Link so I have no idea what you are looking for. I have tried every combination of my date of birth but every one gets rejected!

    Here is the crux of the problem. I got this document just before the Labor Day weekend and cannot reach anyone in your office because it is closed for the long weekend and it will continue to be closed all day on the 4th which means I will not get any help from you until after your deadline. You say in your document that I will ineligible for unemployment if I do not complete the registration on the 4th. I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE MY UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE YOUR WEBSITE WILL NOT LET ME REGISTER.

    What do you think can be done??

  • Deb Grisamore

    I have been told you can work part time while on UE benefits is this true and if so how do I find out how much I can earn with out effecting my benefits? Thanks in advanced.

    • When you work, Illinois multiplies your weekly benefit by 1.5, from which it deducts 100% of your gross earnings. Which means if your weekly benefit is $200, when you work your benefit is increased $100 to $300. So, with a WBA of $200, you can earn $100 before your benefit is reduced by your earnings.

      To determine weekly benefit, total your earnings from your two highest quarters between 4/1/2016-6/30/2017, multiply by 47%, divide by 26.

  • K Washington


    I have been working two full-time jobs for over a year now. I was able to swing that by being able to work from home. One employer has gone into “administration” and the business is being dissolved. As it stands, I am last in line as a creditor, and will not be compensated for my accrued vacation time, or last months salary. My questions are am I eligible to collect UE benefits even though I still maintain full-time employment?

  • Rhonda Hampton

    I was a school counselor last school year and my contract wasn’t renewed. I was only there for the one school year (9mos) and the year before that I substituted for a couple local districts. I was told that I could file for unemployment because it was their choice not to re-hire me but I am confused about the “18 month” rule for employment. Will I be eligible if I apply for benefits? Thank you so much!

    • There is no 18-month rule for unemployment. You may be conflating that with the potential 18-month lookback on wages depending on when you apply. For now, IL will examine wages 4/1/16-3/30/2017 or, alternatively, 7/1/16-6/30/17. Income and work requirements for eligibility are given at the top of this page. If you’ve worked at least two quarters in that period, you are eligible in Illinois.

  • Diane

    Can I receive dependent benefits if my ex-spouse has sole custody and is the only one allowed to claim our child?

  • Yvonne


    I quit my job 2 months ago because I was having heart issues and my boss would complain about me going to my appointments. I work in HR and I was responsible for letting people go and the company was laying off hundreds of people so the anxiety messed with my heart and blood pressure. I told my bosses boss that my boss was giving me a hard time about going to my appointments and nothing was done. I decided to quit and in my email, I stated why I quit. I filed for unemployment Friday. Do you think I will get unemployment? I have the paperwork I was going to doctor for heart issues and I know the company has my email that I was stressed and had to leave.

    • Claims examiners in the early stages of processing are not given the latitude to make decisions in situations like yours. It is more than likely you will be denied and need to appeal. Facts of your case will be better examined at the appeal hearing.

  • Coca

    Why I get charged with extra unemployment and be punshied as a small business employer while my employee decided to reduce her work to go back to study, their is no fault from my side but rather his decision to do that while caused hardship to my business to find replacement. There is no fault whatsoever from my side.
    May be he has a good personal cause but was his action and decision and was not mine?

    Can I appeal it? It is not fair.

    • Your employee cannot choose to reduce his work hours, go to school, and still collect benefits. Further, he needs to get Illinois approval for his school schedule. Yes, appeal. You tell Illinois he QUIT his full-time job, which he did. Do that immediately. You should have so said when Illnois first sent you the paperwork on the claim. He would have been denied immediately.

      If you never responded initially and now appeal the granting of benefits, there is a chance IL will suspend his benefits pending a hearing assuming not too much time as gone by since he first applied and you were queried.

  • Will

    One additional question. I’ve recently found out that my previous employer – who had stated that my job was being eliminated due to budget restraints – has recently filled my former position with a much younger employee at (presumably a smaller salary than I made). I am considering an EEOC complaint based upon age discrimination, although I am seeking advice before doing so. I know it will be a battle if initiated, but they went from telling me the position couldn’t be justified to simply filling the very same position 3 months after saying I wasn’t needed.

    How does an EEOC filing affect my Illinois UE benefits to date? Does that suspend my claim and/or require that I repay my UE benefits until the (potential) EEOC case is resolved? As always, thank you for your very good help.

  • Will

    Hi Daphne…even though IL nominally states a maximum of 26 weeks UE benefits, you really never get paid for the waiting week. In effect, you can only be paid for 25 weeks in a benefit year. Is that correct? And assuming that you certify the maximum 13 times, do you just stop filing after the 13th time, or do you have to notify IL that you have reached your maximum number of certifications?

    As always, thanks for your help.

  • Mick


    I have just been laid off due to a restructuring of my agency’s organization (my position is being closed).

    I am an American citizen who works for a foreign government that is based here in Chicago.

    Do I quailify for unemployment ?

    Thank you

    • Has your employer been reporting your wages to the IRS and the State of Illinois? Has your employer been providing you with W-2s so that you can file your annual 1040 with the IRS? Have you been filing US and Illinois tax returns on the basis of the wages received from this foreign government?

      If the answer to all is yes, then your employer should have been complying with US Labor Laws and reporting your income to the appropriate federal and state taxing authorities and paying the appropriate US taxes, including unemployment insurance taxes (FUTA and SUTA), to the State of Illinois.

      Apply for benefits. You should be eligible.

      • Mick

        Thank you for your response, Daphne.

        We receive a signed letter (not a W-2 form) stating how much wages we earned each year from the employer, which is then reported to the IRS and subsequently State of Illinois when we file our individual 1040 tax forms. We do file on the basis of the wages received from the foreign government.

        Does that change anything?

        Thank you

  • Patricia H.

    I will be starting a new job the second week of my upcoming certification period, My first week I would have earned nothing of course because I haven’t started yet but my second week I’d earned income$560. Will I still receive benefits at least for the first week? Also when certifying when asked about my work status do I say still working since I will be doing so as upon filling my certification. Will this cancel my unemployment or will I have to wait until the next certification date when my earned income will be for both weeks?

    • You will get paid for the week you didn’t work. Don’t mention anything about you will be working b/c that often stops payment on the week you didn’t work. The 2nd week state you did not search for work. IL will automatically close the claim. You don’t need to do anything more than that.

      • Patricia H.

        Thank you, Daphne,

        I just want to make sure I’m clear on this. My upcoming certification will be on 7/25 for the weeks of 7/9-715 and 7/16-7/22. I start my position on the 17th So for Question # 3 on the on-line form when asked did I work I answer Yes? When asked for wages earned for each week I answer 0$ for week 7/9-7/15 and 560$ for 7/16-7/22 Is that correct? Then for question #4 when asked if I was I laid off, fired ,quit, labor dispute or still working. I don’t say still working? I believe I must answer this question on the form if I say yes to question #3. If this is the case will my case be suspended and will I still receive first weeks benefits? Maybe I’m confused but the way the on-line form is outlined it doesn’t allow you to answer the question for each individual week i.e. 7/9-7/15 then 7/16-722 only both weeks together,. .

        I sincerely apologize for the confusion any light you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • Williams

    I was just forced to resign my position not due to job performance and was told by someone that there is particular wording that needs to be used with the IDES when submitting a claim for unemployment for a forced resignation Do you by chance know something about this? I tried calling IDES bu they say they have a long wait time and hang up on you. I am receiving a severance which I do know doesn’t affect my claim and the employer has stated that they will not fight my unemployment claim.

    Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to provide.

    • When you apply, you state you were discharged. Essentially, yours is a coerced resignation in lieu of discharge. If employer asserts you quit, expect a denial. You will need to appeal. Employer coerced you into resigning, but no interviewer will take your word over the employer’s in the initial stages. You can win benefits on appeal.

  • Sam

    The company I work for has been purchased by another company and we are in the process of acquisition/merger. I’m currently working part time 22-25 hours per week (my availability due to child care is three weekdays per week and one Saturday per month). I have now been told by the HR department of the new company that they do not offer my position on a part time basis and that I can either accept my current position as full time or take a demotion to remain part time. However, the part time position requires an availability of 25-28 per week and at least three Saturdays per month, which I cannot do. They have told me that if I don’t accept one of these positions offered, I will be voluntarily resigning and will not qualify for unemployment benefits. Is this true? I’m not unwilling to stay on with the new company, I just don’t meet the eligibility requirements of either available position under the new leadership.

    • Their statement is blatantly wrong. You are entitled to refuse this work AND collect unemployment benefits. Essentially you have experienced a material change to your employment contract, you are being discharged from your part-time position, and offered new, unsuitable work as to hours (Saturday work) and whatever change in duties this so-called “demotion” involves.

      Covered by the USDOL, here:

      Write your employer a letter stating you are able to to remain under the employment contract you had, but cannot accept a full-time position or one involving weekend work. Apply for benefits after the discharge.

      You employer will say you quit. You may need to appeal to get IL to recognize the Saturday work/demotion as a material change. Interviewers are given limited latitude on these decisions. You will win at appeal.

  • Jim Stack

    I was laid off in a force reduction on Mar 4 2017 from a 77K base plus commission position with full benefits. In early June I received an offer to a job with similar responsibilities but at 48K base plus commission with no benefits which I countered but received no revised offer.or further communication from the company.
    I was just sent a refusal of work questionnaire and interview request.from IDES. Since the job compensation and benefits were substantially less than my previous job and I did not receive a revised offer, am I in jeopardy of Denial of Benefits and what info should I include in my justification of turning down the initial offer and during the interview. Thanks for your insight.

    • You are not in jeopardy of denial of benefits unless the prevailing wage/compensation for the work you have done has dropped dramatically in your area. Generally, IL cannot insist you take a job with a base pay 38% below your previous salary. This from the IL handbook:

      Under the law, a job is not suitable if:
      b. The wages, hours or other working conditions of the job are not as good as those that exist for the same kind of work in the same community.

      Further, from the IL statutes:

      In determining whether or not any work is suitable for an individual, consideration shall be given to the degree of risk involved to his health, safety, and morals, his physical fitness and prior training, his experience and prior earnings, his length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in his customary occupation, and the distance of the available work from his residence.

      At this point in your unemployment, at the very least the job is UNSUITABLE as to wages. You shouldn’t have any problem with Illnois on this issue.

  • Samantha Hansen

    I’ve been receiving unemployment benefits since 4/26 but now my former employer is now trying to appeal it. I was let go because he decided not to renew my contract. Do contract employees qualify for benefits? I was there for a year and made about $30k

    • Yes, contract employees qualify unless they are paid 1099 and are considered independent contractors, not employees. If you were paid W-2, with taxes withheld, etc., you are an employee and the end of a contract is the same as a separation/discharge in the eyes of IDES.

  • Sue

    If employer does not have money to make payroll can i file for unemployment

    • You are employed. Benefits are paid to those who are not working. You can quit for failure to pay wages, but generally, if this is the first time and you will be paid within two weeks, you may have a hard time proving good cause. It also depends on how far in arrears that employer is, per this:

      Every employer is required to pay all wages earned at least semi-monthly. The wages are to be paid no later than 13 days after the end of the pay period in which the wages were earned.

      Wages of executive, administrative and professional employees as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, may be paid once per month.

      If you choose not quit, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Instead, file a wage complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.

  • Matt

    Hello, as of yesterday my employer announced that they are terminating our salaries (50k a yr) and asking us to sign an acknowledgement that we will work for commission ONLY (10% of what we sell). In our employment contract it clearly states that BOTH parties must engage in the negotiation and acceptance of ANY CHANGES to our compensation. If I choose not to sign the acknowledgment of the willingness to allow my salary to be terminated and to work for only a small amount of commission dollars, I will likely be terminated. Will I be able to file for unemployment and would I likely be awarded unemployment benefits? I appreciate your time, attention, and advice on this matter. Thank you!

    • You are absolutely eligible. Employer is attempting to make a material change to your employment contract such that you are being discharged from your position and are, instead, being offered new, unsuitable work – which you have the right to refuse. USDOL covers the issue, here – see 4.b.:

      • Matt

        Thank you so much, Daphne! That is a load off and relief. I am very disappointed in the way things have transpired. But, I’m glad I have options!

      • Georgia

        My job was eliminated and I was forced to retire. In order to certify for unemployment benefits do I have to look for a job? I am 65. There are zero jobs where I now live.

        • If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you must continue the work search. During the recession some states issued waivers for certain parts of their state. You can call IL about a waiver, but don’t expect a positive answer.

  • Brooke Q

    I was working as an aide in a school in Illinois. We just finished our school year and many of us got “reduction in force” notices with high probability of getting our job back for the next school year. Can I file for unemployment during the summer months (June, July, and beginning of August) before the new school year starts?

  • Jeff S

    Can a person receive unemployment benefits after being laid from a full time job, but receives rental property income.

  • K


    I’ve been with the company for 5 years. I changed too new team last year and encountered some hardship w my management at work. My manager took away my job, being verbay abbisive and have unreasonable requests that made my life in hell. I feel the constant pressure has significantly impacted my mental health. If I quit will I get the benefit or I’ll have to be laid off to be able to claim it?


    • It’s much easier to get benefits under a discharge/firing or lay off vs. a quit. If you need to quit, you first need to get a doctor’s statement that the stress is detrimental to your health, you need to attempt to preserve the employment relationship by providing employer w/doctor’s excuse and request that employer rectify the issues which are causing this stress via restoration of original job duties and relief from the factors causing the stress and cessation of the abuse. If you’re lucky, the employer will fire you.If that doesn’t happen and employer doesn’t change its behavior, quit.

      IL will want evidence of this, may initially deny, which means you will need to appeal to have the facts properly examined. Yours is a subjective issue of harassment, etc. Expect that an interviewers will not initially approve a claim under these circumstances. However, appeals are won all the time and initial decisions are not cast in stone. So, by all means, appeal if it comes to that.

  • J.Girouard

    I have been with my employer for 21 years. On May 1st, 2017 I was terminated while on a non work/non FMLA (all hours Exhausted) Medical Leave of Absence-Temporary Disability which began Jan 4, 2017, I am currently and have been the entire time on a disability status with IMRF with two separate injuries which my Dr would not clear me to return to work by my employers deadline. I was terminated citing “Staffing difficulties”. Should I file for my claim immediately or do I need to wait until I am no longer disabled, since I cannot seek out active employment.

    • As long as wages remain in your base period, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits when you are again fit for work. If disability is work related, IL can extend that base period up to a year. Without that, you need at least two quarters of wages in the base period to qualify.

      In other words, if your last date of work was Jan. 2017, the latest you can safely apply would be December 2017 at which time your base period would include wages July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017. The 9/30/2016 and 12/31/2016 quarters would form the basis for a claim. Your benefit would be 47% of total wages in highest two quarters, divided by 26, not to exceed $445, or $613 including dependent allowance.

      You might be able to file now – but there is a risk the disability payments might stop – depending on how well Illnois communicates with IMRF.

  • Amy P

    I have 2 questions:

    I just got laid off because of restructuring and am 7 months pregnant. Can I collect unemployment in Illinois even after I give birth if I continue to look for suitable work? Does the IDES office even have to know I am pregnant?

    And next, I currently have a 2 year old son. My husband has a job, however my salary is needed to cover all costs for him. Can I claim my son as a dependent with unemployment even though my husband has a job?

    And on the dependent question I just wanted to note that my son (and myself) are under my husbands insurance (if that matters)

  • LD

    I was laid off from my full time position. I received a Notice of Interview because my previous employer said I voluntarily quit. I have a letter from my previous employer stating that they are laying me off signed by the manager and myself. Before I left his office I asked if he would approve unemployment and he said Yes. What do I do?

  • Nicole

    My company has a policy where if you call into work 8 times in a rolling 12 month period you could be terminated. I am a mother of two kids and have had to call into work or leave work to pick sick children up from daycare. If I am terminated for this reason would I be eligible for benefits? I have been given a notice to sign warning me that I have 6 unplanned days away at this time. I am fearful of being terminated for something that is out of my control.

  • Josh Johnson

    My job recently absorbed my department into another and i took the new job. Well it has been a week now and i realise the is not the job for me. I still have not signed any paperwork of the transfer is there a way i could leave and still collect unemployment? Im not sure what to do really.

  • Eli

    I’m currently receiving workers comp due to a work related injury on 3/2014 and sometime early May 2017 case is gonna be closed now I wanted to know if I can apply for unemployment before my workers comp benefits stop? I do have permanent restrictions which states that I cannot no longer do the job I previously did (Labor work) but I can work any light duty job but my employer doesn’t have any light duty position. Can I file for unemployment?? I’m only going to be receiving my workers comp benefits for only a couple of more weeks???

    • In many cases of extended WC payments, claimants often find there are no wages on which to base a claim when they are finally able to reenter the workforce, and most states will not use WC payments to meet the earnings requirements.

      That said, Illinois has an extended base period for up to one year if the individual received temporary total disability under a workers’ compensation act, which means Illinois will be looking at wages all the way back to January 2015, if necessary, to find wages. I don’t think Illinois uses WC payments in lieu of wages, but am not certain about that.

      You should, by all means apply the last week you receive WC benefits and let Illinois determine if you qualify monetarily.

      • Eli

        So it wouldn’t be a good decision to go to an unemployment office to apply this week? I just want to apply early so that way once my workmans comp benefits stop my unemployment benefits begin given the fact that it might take as long as possibly 3 weeks until I receive my first unemployment check?

        • You apply the last week you will be receiving a workmen’s comp check. Any earlier may complicate the WC claim. Don’t do it. If IL approves a claim for you, please post back with details on what income it used to qualify you.

  • Josh Johnson

    If my job is absorbing my department into another department and offering me a position without the full guidelines of the new position. And i decide to take it but learn it is not suitable after a few weeks time. Is there any way to get benefits?

    • Possibly on appeal – but your reasons would need to be very convincing. In your case, Illinois will not adjudicate an issue of suitability in the initial stages – an appeal would be necessary.

      Unsuitable is the word on which these decisions are made. In your case, as to duties, skill set, hours, etc. Before you quit, you would need to attempt to preserve the employment relationship by communicating your grievances with the employer and asking for a return to your old duties. Keep a paper trail of these communications. If you’re lucky the employer will fire you. It is much easier to get benefits on a discharge than a quit.

      That said, again, if you make an attempt to preserve the relationship and the new job is indeed ‘unsuitable,’ you have a good chance (no guarantee) of getting benefits on appeal.

  • Josh Johnson

    My job is eliminating my position (whole department) and I was offered another position within the company but some of the hours are overnight. My home responsibilities prevent me from working an overnight shift. My employer has let me know that if I decline the position that I will be let go. Under these circumstances would I qualify for unemployment benefits?

    • Yes. You are being discharged from your current position, and are being offered new UNSUITABLE work, as to hours. There is no way IL can require you to take that position as it constitutes a material change from your earlier employment contract.

      Let employer discharge you. You tell Illinois your position was eliminated. Period. Employer may assert you’ve quit b/c you refused the overnight work. If they do that and Illinois queries you about the job refusal/quit, you tell Illinois they offered you new unsuitable work which you refused. Do not state child care as an issue, or IL may interpret that to mean you quit for personal reasons. Your one and only reason for refusing the job is the material change in hours. You don’t need to give a reason why you can’t work overnight. Most people work during the day. Refusing overnight hours is reasonable.

      Key words to remember are “unsuitable” and “material change in employment contract.”

      If by some chance, Illinois denies the claim, appeal. You will win at appeal. Labor law is very clear on this issue, but interviewers often can get it wrong in the early stages.

  • Vicky Webb

    My husband just st missed the IDES interview call. It went straight to voicemail and had no clue that he got the call until he phoned the 1800 number to see what was going on. No voicemail was left but the office confirmed that he missed the call. They places a request for another call but told him that the state is not obligated to call him back and that if they deny the clam he can appeal. Generally speaking, do you know if they will attempt to call again. And if he appeals, how long will that take. I am very nervous .

    • The states do NOT deny if he misses the interview. If employer alleges an issue, the interview won’t do him any good anyway, because 99% of the time whatever employer says rules and the only way to get the denial overturned is to appeal.

      So, don’t worry about it. If his was a clean separation and there were no issues with the employer, he should be approved.

  • K C

    I will be going on maternity leave and will receive 80% of my pay. Am I able to get unemployment to make up the difference in pay?

    • Absolutely not. You are disabled and unable to work. Benefits are paid to people who are Able and Available. 80% maternity pay is very generous. Only a few states pay disability in your situation (CA, NJ, NY) and NONE pay 80% of your wages, nor would they if the company was paying you.

      Fwiw – and not applicable to you, but Illinois weekly unemployment benefit is equivalent to 47% of total wages in your two highest quarters. IL pays no benefits to the unemployed who are working or receiving earnings if that income exceeds the weekly benefit amount. You are being paid 80% of your wages, far in excess of any potential weekly benefit.

  • Jen

    I was let go from my position yesterday due to lay off. I have a child that will be born early May. Can I add her to my application after she is born?

  • W Mahan

    My first certification is scheduled for next week. I have printed the “Work Search Records” form, but I don’t know where to go to enter those searches online. Or is there a place to enter that data online, or do I just keep the paper forms that I have printed out. I know I have to keep my records for 53 weeks after my last paid benefit, but I am not sure if/where I have to report my job searches online. As always, thank you for your assistance.

  • Jay

    I’m so confused… I was laid off, due to my job closing, filed a claim which was denied bc there was zero reported income from my employer, went in person with 5 years of w2s. On the 9th letter was issued that claim was approved, on the 10th letter​ was issued that due to my certification I am not eligible for payment, on the 13th payment was made. What is happening?! I can’t call them until business hours again, but I’m wondering what this new thing unfolding could be, how many hoops, and how long.

    If working 5 years for an employer, and having my job close on me isn’t a reason to be eligible for benefits, I don’t know what is…

  • Mrs. E.

    If I work full time one week of the certification period with pay coming out to almost double my weekly benefit allowance, but only work one day the second week, should I still certify for that period?

    • Yes. Report gross earnings for both weeks. IL will not pay you for the first week. For the second week, IL will increase your weekly benefit amount by 50% and deduct your earnings from that. You should receive a benefit that second week, so absolutely certify for both weeks.

  • Will Smith

    If you are laid off and the company pays you for your 2 weeks vacation time can I file unemployment or do I have to wait until the vacation time is over.

  • Jon

    I was laid off from an Illinois employer in September of 2016 and am still unemployed but did not file for unemployment until March 2017. I just received notification that I am eligible for benefits with my first certification date on March 13, 2017. Will I receive benefits retroactive to when I was laid off, in Sept 2016, or will I just begin receiving benefits from the filing date (March 1st 2017) forward?

  • anana


    I’ve been working for a company for almost 4 years and i recently got laid off.
    I am receiving a severance package and would like to see if i’m eligible for unemployment and if so, will it affect my credit or be visible r to any future employers?

    • Severance has no effect on unemployment benefits in Illinois. Severance is reported to the State of Illinois Department of Revenue as income in the exact same way as wages. Do your wages affect your credit? Well, then, neither does severance. Whatever wage information for Illinois residents is available to the public in Illinois, is also available to other employers. Otherwise, the details of your severance package, if not treated as taxable income to you, is not reported to anyone.

  • Dave

    My wife’s job was outsourced in December 2016 and she was receiving Unemployment benefits since then. She took a new job that started this past Monday 2-27-17 and it is not working out at all. Can she re-open her claim if she quits the new position?

    • She can attempt to reopen, but IL will investigate why she quit and may deny. Good reasons for a quit are job not as described, outside her skill set, hazardous work environment, other employer promises not fulfilled, etc. What are her issues?

  • Tasha

    I know live in chicago and work in naperville but I’m moving to moline so i can’t travel 2 1/2hr going and coming can i get unemployment

    • Why are you moving to Moline? You need a good cause for this move, otherwise the answer is No.

      • Tasha

        I have to move from where I’m at, going to stay with someone

        • Why do you have to move? Are you being evicted? Have you looked for other affordable housing in your area? Some states will pay if you lose your housing and can prove you’ve looked diligently for other affordable housing. IL is not the best state for someone in your situation. All you can do is apply and see where it goes.

  • Mrs. E.

    Have a small part time job and collecting benefits.If I will be out of state 2 weeks traveling during my 26 week period how will this affect my benefits? Should I certify saying I was not available to work or skip this time?

    • If you report you did not search for work, Illinois will close the claim. If you stop claiming for the two weeks you are gone, Illinois will close the claim. Either way, you will need to REOPEN the claim either online or by calling Illinois when you have returned and are once again searching for and able to accept work. Illinois will need to speak with you about the break in claims, so try to get through via phone.

      To answer your q, I would just stop claiming.

      • Mrs. E.

        Thanks so much!

      • Mrs. E.

        What if this time occurs in two different certification periods? As in I search for work week one, am out of town weeks 2 and 3, and search for work week 4. Should I certify those 2 periods and if so how should I fill it out?

        • You report the events exactly as they happen. You certify for one week reporting earnings (or not), the other you return saying you did not search for work. If one of those weeks is an unpaid week for whatever reason, you may need to call IL – or go online to reopen the claim so you can submit claims for the next biweekly period. IL will want to know why you were earning one week and not the next and/or why you claimed one week and were not able to search for work the next. Constantly reopening the claim can be a PITA in some states which immediately close the claim when a benefit is not paid for a week – for whatever reason – either you didn’t claim, you didn’t do a work search, or you earned too much.

          • Mrs. E.

            Can you still claim if you contnue to apply for jobs via the Internet while you are out of town?

          • Until IL flags a different IP and then may decide to audit you. You would need to demonstrate that you would be available to begin work the next day wherever you are. Generally, claims from inside the US are not an issue, but there is no guarantee.

  • Cheri

    My husbands factory has sold and if he doesn’t get offered a job by the new owners. How long can he draw unemployment? He has worked there 50 years.

    • Illinois is now paying 26 weeks’ benefits.

      • Cheri

        At the end of 26wks can you reapply if you still have benefits?

        • Not sure what you’re asking here. You are allowed one claim every 52 weeks. You are given 52 weeks (the benefit year) to collect 26 weeks’ benefits.

          Has your benefit year expired and you have money remaining? If so, your right to collect those benefits has expired.

          If your benefit year has not expired and if you mean 26 weeks has gone by since you first opened your claim and you did not collect any benefits, you can REOPEN the claim now and still collect until the (1) benefits are exhausted, (2) you are reemployed, or (3) the benefit year expires, whichever occurs first.

          But, if you’ve worked during your benefit year and that is why you didn’t exhaust your 26 weeks and the benefit year has now expired, yes, apply for a new claim. The new earnings create eligibility for a claim.

          If, otoh, you mean you’ve collected your 26 weeks and the benefit year has not yet expired, no, you won’t qualify for another claim – and there are no extensions.

  • W Mahan

    Hi Daphne – What a spider web this is. I was checking to see if I could receive Social Security while receiving unemployment benefits. After reading, I still don’t know if there is an offset, or not, should I start taking SS benefits. While I was reading that article, I came across something about “other” pensions. Each June I get a check from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation resulting from a failed Mass Mutual defined plan. That pension is from an employer that has been out of business for over 10 years – hence the pension was dumped into the PBGC. It is not a pension from the employer who just eliminated my position. Will that annual check in June erase any unemployment benefits I would get from the state of Illinois? It’s not a large payout, but probably equal to what I would receive in UE benefits over 25 weeks. Thank you.

    • In Illinois, SS benefits are NOT an offset to unemployment benefits. Illinois eliminated the 50% SS offset a few years ago.

      Since your pension is not derived from a base-period employer, it is not an offset either, explained on p. 6 of claimant handbook, here:

      So, you can concurrently collect SS, pension, and unemployment benefits without an issue.

      • W Mahan

        You are an amazing source. I cannot thank you enough.

      • W Mahan

        Hi Daphne,
        So today I went to the Social Security Administration office in Springfield, IL. I signed up to start receiving payments in March, but the first SS payment won’t be until the 4th Wednesday in April. I will have been out of work for 2 months by the time I get my first SS check. Okay, no problem. But the SSA rep said that Illinois will not want to pay my unemployment insurance since I filed for SS — even though I told her I am earnestly seeking a new position. I do have to find another job and I can suspend SS when I do. But the UI check is not going to cover my expenses while I search for a job without the additional amount from Illinois UI. Plus at my age, salary, and location, it may take some time to fine a job. That’s why I filed for UI and SS. I don’t want to get in trouble with Illinois UI, so do you have a document that states I can collect UI and SS concurrently, or should I call the Illinois Department of Employment Services? I’m surprised the SSA rep did not know that the offset no longer applies. As always, thank you.

        • The SS rep told you WRONG. She does NOT know what she is talking about. There was a time IL deducted 50% of the SS benefit from UI benefits. That law changed in 2015.

          You absolutely apply for UI. IDES will NEVER ask about SS because it does NOT care. Current IL handbooks says this – please note it says NOT including Social Security:

          If you worked since Sunday of this week, the gross wages earned this week;
          *You must report all gross wages for any work performed, full or part-time;
          *Gross wages must be reported the week in which they are earned, not the week in which you receive
          the wages;
          Records of any pension payments you are receiving (not including Social Security);

          By comparison, here is an excerpt from the 2014 IL handbook which DOES reference SS payments:

          You will be paid or have received a retirement pension UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS
          or other similar periodic payment (including Social Security) for the week for which you claim benefits.

          One-half of your Social Security or retirement pension payment (if paid for in part by your base period
          or chargeable employer) or all of a retirement pension payment (if the base period or chargeable employer paid all of its cost) is deducted from your unemployment insurance benefits.

          IL uses the same link for its handbook and replaces the handbook each year, so the 2014 is no longer on its website. I just happen to have the 2014 handbook saved into my computer.

          Ignore that woman. You got incorrect information. She should stop talking about issues on which she is not current.

          • W Mahan

            I knew what you had said before, so you can imagine how surprised I was when she told me that today. Your reply (sorry you had to tell me twice!) obviously makes me feel a whole lot better tonight. You have been an amazing resource as I work through all of this. Not sure where I’d be today without the great advice you have given. Thank you.

  • Brad

    If an employee who is discharged and receives IDES benefits is awarded subsequently awarded back pay as part of a grievance resolution stemming from the discharge, does the back pay check have to be made out to both IDES and the former employee? The employee is fully prepared to reimburse IDES but believes it would be easier to simply repay IDES with a certified check rather have the employer make out a check jointly to IDES and the employee

    • You absolutely do not send IDES any money. Instead, you report the back pay on your weekly certification the week you receive it and let Illinois figure out what, if anything, you owe. Worst case – and this may not occur at all depending on how employer reports this back pay – Illinois may stop benefits for the same number of weeks equivalent to the back pay. But, once that period has elapsed, IL will resume payments.

      Much depends on how employer reports this award. Per IL:

      if, in connection with your separation, the employer makes or will make such payment and files a timely designation of the period covered by the ……..back-pay award.

      Again, let Illinois figure it out.

  • W Mahan

    After 9 years at my company, my position was eliminated. I was offered a severance package. Can I receive UE benefits while the severance is paid out, or do I have to wait until the severance pay ends? Thank you.

    • In Illinois, severance has no effect on your benefits. It does not matter whether your severance payments come in periodically or in one lump-sum. As long as you no longer work for your employer, you are eligible for unemployment benefits.

      • W Mahan

        Thanks for the quick reply Daphne. Very helpful. I should have mentioned one other thing. The company eliminated my position (no performance issues), but offered me “up to” 20 hours maximum per week in a part-time capacity at an hourly rate. Some weeks might be much less than 20 hours. This would be, minimally, a 75% reduction from my annual salary. I really need to focus on finding full-time employment. Am I required to take that part-time hourly position, or risk being denied UE compensation?

        By the way, it’s so nice to see people like you in the world helping others!

  • JOSE

    I have been at my company since March 2016. My employer currently relocated 5 months ago. Since then my train ticket has gone up in price. Also, when I first got this job we had the opportunity to earn an extra 8k from month 12 to month 24 of being employed. They just got rid of that program and now I will be stuck earning the same pay with no chance of a raise for 24 months. Would I qualify for unemployment if i were to quit for any of those reasons?

    • You would need to convince Illinois that removal of the incentive program is a material change to your employment contract and will cause financial hardship, and that the incentive program was why you took that job. Unless the cost of the train has risen substantially, it is unlikely you can plead financial hardship on that issue.

      Expect an initial denial and need to appeal. In some states you might win on material change in employment contract and potential future loss of earnings b/c of removal of the incentive program. IL isn’t the most claimant-friendly state so may disregard that argument, saying you had not yet participated in the incentive program so there is no way to put a value on it or determine your reduced pay, therefore you did not experience a material change.

      • JOSE

        Would I qualify for unemployment if i were to quit for any of those reasons? Would they take the relocation into consideration?

        • Asked and answered for the most part. Deleted most of your text b/c it is repetitive. Relocation in and of itself is irrelevant because it occurred too long ago. You continued the job in spite of the relocation. Therefore, that new location is “suitable.” You can’t use that as a reason, any longer, except to say had you known incentive program would be eliminated, you would have refused the job at the new location because loss of potential for additional earnings was removed.

          You will definitely be denied and need to appeal. It is anyone’s guess if Illinois will approve, even on appeal. Reread my first answer.

          You may want to consult with an IL unemployment attorney. Here’s a start:

  • Esther Aguilar

    I was working for a staffing agency when the position I was in was filled in house by the company. The staffing agency found me no other work as of Nov 4 2016. After that I also lost my health insurance. I have a part time job but it is only 10 hours a week. Can I still file for unemployment & health insurance or is there a time period that I have missed out on?

  • Don

    I have a full time retail position working 30 plus hours a week. Company has reduced payroll hours leaving only 8 hours a week for me and a part time employee after adjusting for manager and assistant manager required hours. Store has stopped receiving shipments and is offering escalating discounts on all products. Company claims the store isn’t closing but this is the same process every other store that has previously closed has experienced. I can’t financially survive on 5 hours a week until store officially closes. Do I have any options?

    • A 75% reduction in hours/pay is grounds for a good cause quit. If you don’t want to quit, you can apply for benefits on the basis of this hours reduction.

      Know that IL will determine your weekly benefit by dividing 47% of total wages in your 2 high quarters by 26, which means if you earned $24,000 in six months, your weekly benefit would be $433.

      If your benefit is hypothetically $433, if you continue to work, Illinois will increase your weekly benefit amount by 50% to $649/wk and deduct your gross earnings from that. In the interim, of course, you can look for other work.

      Illinois gross-up of 50% of WBA is a very generous partial benefit formula so, in your case, given the significant reduction in hours, this is probably your better option until employer discharges you entirely or you find other work. You should apply for benefits immediately, as it will take Illinois about 3-4 weeks to process the claim and pay benefits.

      Or, you can quit entirely. You have grounds for that, too. Essentially, the employer has made a material change to the terms of your employment contract. Before you quit, address the grievance with the employer in writing, asking for a return to your regular hours and weekly pay, as the current situation is a financial hardship.

      • Marquita

        I was let go from my job on 1/16/2017, I filed my claim on 1/22/2017. My first certification date was 2/06/2017. On 2/07/2017 I was mailed a Benefits Payment Explanation saying that my payment was withheld because I was found ineligible, but I was scheduled for an interview for 2/15/2017, in which I spoke to the adjudicator and she stated my employer didn’t send anything in so she was going to put in the release for funds and I should receive them in 2-3 days. Why did I receive the Benefit Explanation Letter saying I was found ineligible for benefits before I even had my interview?

  • joe

    i’m still not able to find employment and my unemployment ran out 3.5 months ago. i was let go on 3/15/16. is there any point at which i can file again for unemployment?

    • Not until you have worked again. If you have not worked at all since March 2016, then you are ineligible for a new claim when the current benefit year expires. If, by some chance, you are able to find a job and earn 3x your weekly benefit rate before the current benefit year expires, you may have eligibility for a second year claim at that time.

  • Eric

    My question is how many kids can you claim as dependents? I had 2 under 17 the form as how many I had I put 2 and it only let me fill out info for 1

  • Courtney

    Hi I still have my job because they won’t but I want to ask a question! If my employer put his hands on me (not sexual) but aggressively and then when it was brought to his attention he took my job away and put me in a different position without asking me to cover him from putting his hands on me am I eligible for benefits? He has told everyone that he can no longer work with me in the patients rooms but the management is telling me a different story! Also I haven’t been able to go back to work in two weeks until we are all able to have a meeting! I asked them if I am laid off and they said no! I am just trying to figure out my options so if you can get back to me asap possible that would be great! This is an uncomfortable work environment now and I don’t know what else to do!

    • If you are discharged, yes, you are eligible for benefits. Much will depend on what employer accuses you of. Employers often lie. If he does, you may get a denial and need to appeal before benefits are paid.

  • I live in Illinois but worked for 10 years for a company with an office in Iowa. (They are actually based in NYC). I was laid off in early December and my job was eliminated. Do I file for Unemployment benefits in Iowa or in Illinois?

    • Did you actually work at the Iowa office? If so, you apply for benefits in Iowa. If Iowa has no record of your wages, you then apply in NY. Where you live has nothing to do with your benefits, only the state to which your wages were reported and the state to which your employer paid FUTA/SUTA taxes for the unemployment insurance program.

  • Eric

    I live in illinois and work for a construction company and things have slowed down as they do this time of year. If I went to a 4 weeks truck driving program that guarantees a job upon the 4 week completion could I collect unemployment during the 4 week period?

  • Sandt

    Is there any additional benefit if I have reached my 26 weeks and not used all my benefit because of part time work? What are my options if I reach week 26 and am still unemployed in 2017? Emergency? extension?
    Thank you

    • If you haven’t used all your benefits within the current benefit year, because you have worked during your benefit year you are definitely eligible for a brand new claim when the current claim expires. Any benefits remaining on the old claim are lost, but you begin to collect on the new claim just as you had done previously.

      By all means reapply for a new claim the week your current claim expires.

  • Sarah Johnson

    I am currently employed as a caregiver for a parent. All taxes, including unemployment taxes, are deducted from my monthly check. At this point, I’ve been caring for my loved one and managing their affairs for years and the process has become too taxing. In addition, I’m still young and need to go back into the workforce and earn a higher salary before I place myself in a financial bind I can’t afford years down the road. Thus, in the next few months, I may need to place my loved one in a nursing home. If I do, will I be eligible for unemployment (remember, federal and state unemployment taxes are being paid) until I find new employment? Also, because I already have paid to take a vacation abroad this summer, If I don’t find suitable employment before that date, will I be able to place unemployment benefits on hold during that period and resume once I return to Illinois and continue my job search?

    • If appropriate taxes have been paid, including FUTA taxes to the state of Illinois by your “employer,” then, yes, you are eligible for benefits. File immediately when the job ends in order to preserve your LAG (unused earnings in the base period) for a potential second year claim. It will take Illinois a few weeks to establish the claim. The claim will remain viable for one year after established. You REOPEN the claim either online or by calling when you return to the US and are again searching for work.

  • Kate


    I’ve been employed at the company for just a little over 6 months and now they are laying me off. Am I still able to apply for unemployment even though I haven’t worked here for too long?

  • Geoffrey

    What is the purpose of the waiting week? Why does a waiting week get applied to those that have been filing before the end of a fiscal year?

    • The unpaid waiting week is mandated by the state legislature for the purpose of reducing unemployment costs to the state and its employers and is assigned to the first week of your original claim in which you have no earned income. Not all states have waiting weeks, but most do.

      The unpaid waiting week applied to the last week of an expiring claim occurs only when claimant is eligible for a new claim.

      Per the USDOL:

      in the case of a transitional/second year claim, the one week waiting period is deferred if claimant is in continued claim status from a prior year’s claim. The one-week waiting period must be served later in the new benefit year if there is an interruption of UI payments for one or more weeks. Also, the 1-week waiting period credit for the new benefit year may be served in the last week of the prior benefit year if the claim was exhausted prior to the last week of that benefit year.

      Essentially, the bolded text allows establishment of a second-year claim WITHOUT claimant being required to serve a waiting week before receiving benefits. In CA, in order to avoid the second year waiting week if the original claim has been exhausted, one must apply for a new second year claim the week the first year claim expires, not after it expires. There is no waiting week for the new claim week if claimant is still receiving benefits from the expiring claim, although it could be imposed later in the year if benefits are interrupted.

  • Lisa

    Due to cuts, I was let go in May of 2016. I received benefits until the end of November. I had one week left of benefits when I finally found a job. I started at the beginning of Dec 2016 but this job will only last until March of 2017.

    When I am let go in March 2017, can I apply for benefits again?

    Will I get them?

    I was receiving the maximum benefit. I went back to work making the same amount as I did before. Will I still get the same amount?

    Thanks for your time!

    • You cannot apply for another claim until your current benefit year ends in May 2017. Find other work when this current job ends. The benefit may be the same or different, and depends on amount of earnings in the base period used when you refile in May. IL divides 47% of high quarter earnings by 26 to determine benefit. If you have good LAG (unused earnings between end of base period and date of first filing) from the earlier claim, your new claim could very easily be almost as good as the first.

  • Casey

    I was receiving unemployment for IL and I recently moved back home to a different state (VA) because I lost my job. I changed my address in my unemployment account and now it says I need to contact them to receive my payments when I did my last claim so I don’t risk losing my unemployment. I have called their 800-244-5631 number 5,000 times and it ALWAYS says they have high call volume go online. I am now in a different state and can not go in person I need help and do not know what to do! is there a number that actually works this is so fustrating and my family and I are dependent on this income until I find a new job!

    • People get through to Illinois all the time. Get up early and start dialing and keep dialing until you are put in a queue. I always advise people to consider keeping their UE benefits on track as their full-time job. If it requires you spend the entire day hitting redial and/or on hold, then that is your task for the day. If you were in Illnois, you could visit an office – but since you aren’t, phone is your only alternative.

  • Jessica Delaney

    I was fired 12/7/2016 for job performance when a new management company took over the company I worked at for 5 years as the marketing director. Job performance was the reason they gave, yet I never had any negative performance reviews, disciplinary actions, or plans for improvment during conversation. I filed for UE on the the same day, had my interview call on the 19th. On Jan. 17th, it will be my 3rd time I’ve certified. However, I’ve never received any denial or approval letters. I did check to see if I had any disbursements, which I do. I need to pay bills, but what if they say I am denied and want money back I had issued on the ue debit card. How can I find out what my status is? I’m very nervous about this. I’m wondering why it’s taking so long to get answers.

    • If you have money on your debit card for the claims filed thus far, it appears the employer has not responded negatively to your claim. In that event, you may not be getting a formal “approval” from Illinois. Illinois just begins payments.

      Employer has been notified of these payments. In the event they contest now, IL may suspend payments and reinvestigate. More likely payments will continue and should employer contest later, which they often do, IL will schedule an appeal hearing because, at that point, any negative response from employer has been received too late.

      Should that occur, you will not be required to repay benefits until after the hearing. Based on what you’ve posted, employer has no grounds for contesting the claim and probably has not bothered to respond at all. If there is an appeal hearing, you will win.

      Spend the money. Worry about an appeal/repayment when and if it happens. Sounds like you’re fine.

  • Suzanne Smith

    My job just got my hrs from 8 to just 6 hrs a day due to budget cuts. A low performing daycare center. Can I apply for benefits?

  • corey

    I only had one employee in the 4th quarter of 2016. I have not filed my payroll taxes yet.

    I laid off my worker until March. He earned about $6,000 in that quarter. He was told he did not earn enough money to get benefits.

    Is this because my business is not on record yet for having paid payroll taxes for the first time? If so, once I pay, will he get benefits.

    • Yes, if you haven’t reported wages to Illinois as yet, IL would have no record of them. In that event, your employee needs to provide Illinois copies of his paystubs. This a common occurrence and easily resolved.

      Your employee also needs at least $440 in wages outside the December quarter, so assuming he has earnings from earlier employment in the alternate base period (Jan-Dec. 2016), he would be eligible for benefits.

      Here is how IL determines earnings eligibility:

      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.

      • pete

        Does the $440 earned have to be within the base period as well? Meaning if I started and worked the month of Dec ’16 and earned over $1600, would I have had to have worked another outside the 4th quarter to qualify? I have worked in January but am unsure about my future with the company.

  • Mike Green

    I went into the office in Harvey Illinois and filed for unemployment benefits. They took all of my identification and information that was needed and I received a letter stating that I qualify for benefits. It has been 2 months and still no money. The other day I received a letter saying that I need to fill out the back of the sheet with basically all the same info that I gave when I filed. Why do I now have to show proof of identity when I did all that already. i didn’t do it online, I did it in the office in front of all the people who work there. Makes no sense

  • Rick

    Hi, I certified for benefits on Monday 1/9, covering the weeks of 12/25-12-31 and 1/1 to 1/7. That’s my normal certification day.

    I just checked my payment record on the IDES site and it suddenly dropped to only $21 without any explanation as to why. It calculated my weekly benefit correctly, but the net benefit was inexplicably only $21. It also only calculated the week of 12/25-12/31, it left 1/1 to 1/7 off completely. I checked my bank account they did indeed only disburse $21.

    I haven’t received any statements saying my claim was challenged for that period, please advise. Thanks.

  • Mack

    I got a letter saying that I answered the certification questions saying that I did NOT look for work during my last period. This is incorrect and I am sure I answered correctly – that I did.

    The letter received says to call their office. When I call the automated message says they are busy and hangs up.
    This happens any time I call.

    If this answer is not corrected, will I be ineligible for my benefits in future periods?

    • Technically, no. But, if no benefits are paid this week b/c of this error, IL may close the claim. Some states close after one week without payment, others after two. Which means you will need to REOPEN the claim – and then wait for benefits to resume while IL investigates why you didn’t claim for one week. To avoid this delay, go to a local Illinois office – this week – to clear this up if you can’t get through on the phones.

  • I filed unemployment today, because my last day of work was 1/5/2016 and won’t start again until sometime in mid February. I just had a baby 1/6/2017 and added him to my dependants on the application. When I got to the end of the application where it usually days the approval amount and when to certify it said 0.00 allowance and 0.00 dependants. What does that mean? Will I be receiving something by email, am I not qualified or what? I’ve been with the company 6 months and make the minimum that’s required. Or is it because I filed on a Sunday late afternoon? Never seen this part of the application just need to know what I should do next.

  • Yvette

    My last pay stub showed that I made $5,166.90 for that little time. So can I file? This is Illinois. I tried to do this on line, but I messed up and received a letter. I called IDES and that said that I will have to come into the office and bring my paystubs (last two). But again, I only worked from 8/29/16 to 10/26.16 and got laid off.

    • Probably. Here is how IL calculates benefits:

      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.

      IL will be using base period Jan.-Dec. 2016 to qualify you. You have earnings in two quarters – so if earnings meet the above minimums, you qualify for a claim.

  • I certified jan 2nd and it said it was still being processed when i tried to re-certify (i thought it didnt go through), i figured because of the holiday. My dependants changed (just had a newborn) will there be a longer delay?

  • Terrie

    I filed for unemployment dec 12 and received my first payment the 28th. I certify every 2 weeks so my next certification day is Jan 10…but I didn’t get paid this week. This is my first time on umployment. What is going on?

    • What does your online status indicate? You need to call IL. It may be an employer has filed an objection. Employers often do after benefits have begun. Most states will suspend benefits pending an investigation.


    I have a question at this time i am working but i want to go back to school i spoke to my manager regarding having 2 days off so i could attend school since the job requires 8 hr shift she said no that i could leave and return once i am done with my classes that will be after 1yr can i still get unemployment??

    • No. You, in effect, are quitting the full-time job and want a part-time job instead. You want to materially change the employment contract. This would be a separation which is NOT the fault of the employer. The employer, therefore, is not required to pay benefits.

      On the other hand, if the employer was reducing your hours from full-time to part-time, this, too, would be a material change to the employment contract which IS the fault of the employer and grounds for a good cause quit – and eligibility for benefits.

      The key is WHO is initiating this change. In all states, separations which are NOT the fault of the employer are not for good cause – with certain exceptions such as medical, domestic violence or other compelling reasons. You wanting to attend school is not compelling.

      Further, in all states going to school is a reason for disqualification because of an Able and Available issue. Assuming a good cause separation, in order for a state to pay unemployment benefits while claimant attends school, claimant needs to be able to search for and available to accept full-time work. State’s must approve the class schedule. If claimant’s class schedule doesn’t allow for this, claimant is disqualified from benefits.

  • Rodger Foreman

    I’m having problems faxing my readable Drivers Lic to IEDS. I’ve tried sending and faxing 5 different copies but they come up as unreadable. All the other proofs of ID come across fine and it’s holding up my payment.

  • Chris

    I filed my claim on monday jan 2 and it still hasnt been processed. Is it because of the new year

  • JD

    I have been hired as a full-time employee but my employer will be reducing my hours due to lack of work. What is the maximum number of hours I may work before I will not qualify to receive any unemployment benefit?

    • Illinois defines full-time as 35 hours per week:

      “Full-time employee” means an individual who is employed for a basic wage for at least 35 hours each week or who renders any other standard of service generally accepted by industry custom or practice as full-time employment.

      Per Illinois:

      Partial Benefits–Part-Time Work

      You may claim some benefits for
      a week if you work less than full
      time because of lack of work. Your
      earnings for the week must be less
      than the weekly benefit amount
      (this amount does not include
      a dependent’s allowance) you
      would receive if you were totally
      unemployed for the week.

      Less than 35 hours a week would create eligibility for unemployment benefits. Whether or not you are paid depends on if your reduced earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount – which in Illinois is normally calculated as 47% of total 2 high quarters divided by 26.

      If your earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount, then Illinois pays a partial benefit amount, discussed on p. 17, here:

      Essentially, your benefits are not affected if you do not earn more than 50% of your WBA. Above that, results in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in benefits.

  • Melissa

    My job ended September 28, 2016. I have found a new one beginning January 6, 2016. For the month of January the new job is only able to give me 12 hours per week for the training period. The gross amount I will get paid from the new job in January is less than the amount I have been receiving from IDES. Once reported, how will this meager January income affect my IDES payments?

  • Carmen

    I worked for the same company for over 30 years, may 2016 i was let go because they closed. Now december 2016 I receive a letter stating I have exausted my benefits for this year, do that mean I have to re apply for benefits. I keep calling and no answer. Someone please help!

    • Illinois pays 25 weeks’ benefits. You are given one year to claim those benefits. If you have received all 25 weeks’ benefits, you are not eligible for another claim until May 2017 – and ONLY if you have worked and earned new wages before then. There are no further benefits available to you at this time.

      Find a job – any job – even if it is part-time – get earnings on the books, and reapply for benefits in May 2017.

  • Jennifer Werve

    I have been trying to contact someone because I have been locked out of my profile for months. I have been advised by the IDES site to contact them at 1800-244-5631 to have my pin reset but when I call that number I get a voice recording telling me they are too busy to take my call and that I need to use the website. I have tried other contact phone numbers and prompts just to speak to anyone and automated on all of them that they are too busy and to use the website….. I have even emailed them through the contact lists email listed and have received no response. I went early on to a location and was told to call the number or use the website and I am starting to get rather peeved that no one is willing or able to assist me. Can anyone get me to someone I can speak to about resetting my pin or file a formal grievance against the State of IL Dept of Unemployment?

  • Erica


    I quit my former employer which I worked for from February 2014 to October 2014 due to verbal and mental abuse, sexual harassment, and not being paid for time worked. I filed charges on my own with the EEOC and The Labor Board. We settled out of court. In the agreement it stated I would be eligible to collect my unemployment back pay benefits in which I didn’t or haven’t received during the time of mediation or received yet. Which both parties signed agreement in October 2015. I have not received my unemployment back pay. What do I do?
    Thank you for your time

    • Did you apply for benefits with IDES at the time of discharge?
      Did you file weekly claims with IDES while the EEOC suit was pending?
      Did IDES rule on your eligibility?
      If IDES denied, did you appeal?

      If employer was objecting and now isn’t and assuming you did, in fact, file an unemployment benefit claim a the time of discharge which went through the IDES appeals process, then your next step is to call IDES and ask where to send a copy of the EEOC ruling which essentially is removing employer’s objection to IDES – which may sit on someone’s desk for quite a while until someone there can figure out what to do with it. This is, after all, an almost three-year old claim.

      You may need to write your state representative to get this straightened out. Find yours, here:


      or see an unemployment law attorney.

      All of that said, if, on the other hand, you never filed an unemployment claim with IDES at the time of discharge, there is no way to get benefits for that period, now.

      • Erica

        I did file and it was denied. I appealed there was a phone interview with both parties. Illinois denied on Dec 2014 or January 2015. It also stated I can file another appeal. So I stopped certifying. Just updated my contacts at the EEOC and Labor board. Then I received the agreement and payout stated that I could receive my benefits. If I withdrew my EEOC and Labor board claim. I didn’t fully understand the agreement until a family friend said I should reapply. I reapplied last week and they sent a denial with a call date. They stated weekly benefit amount is 0.00. Also states laidoff lack of work which is not true I quit do to the working environment.. How do I fix this? They said I can file an appeal. How long would benefits be owed to me for back pay? What should I do?
        Again thank you for your time, patience, and understanding. Greatly appreciated

        • The claim you filed now is “0” because there are no longer any wages in the base period to support a claim. There is nothing to appeal here.

          You need to deal with the actual 2014 claim, not any claim filed recently.

          The most Illinois will pay you now – and only, I fear, after you’ve jumped through a lot of hoops b/c this is such an old claim – is for the weeks you actually certified. Sounds like, at best, it might be 8-12 weeks. It is virtually impossible to get any state to pay retro any weeks which are not in its system – especially something as old as this.

          Logically, if you think about it, at the time you are filing weekly claims, you are certifying that you are still unemployed and that you are searching for work, are keeping logs of your work searches, and are prepared to provide evidence of work searches if asked.

          Can you do that for that period in 2015 when you stopped certifying? If so, you have a very slight chance at collecting those unclaimed weeks – and in order to do so will need to write the IDES Appeal Tribunal on your issue.

          Meanwhile, as I said earlier, call IDES and ask where to submit this agreement so it can at least pay the weeks for which you did submit claims. That, too, may need to be sent to the Appeal Tribunal.

          If you don’t get any help, again contact your state representative. He may be able to cut through the red tape and get you to the right people.

          And, depending on the $$ involved for the unclaimed weeks, you may want to consult an attorney.

          My knowledge on what you need to do next has been exhausted. I’ve never heard of anyone attempting to collect on a three-year old claim – and I’ve been active in unemployment issues for seven years and have heard just about everything – or so I thought. lol

          Please post back with an update when you get this resolved. Thanks.

  • charles reed

    My employer lied and said I abandoned my job how can I prove that they refuse to give me any hours

  • C. K.

    I was fired for “poor performance” I had my interview with IDES on 12/1 and still havent’t heard anything. I was told over the phone it could take up to six weeks. My former employer even called me to see if I was approved because they said that they did not contest it. Is this normal? Six weeks?

    • IL needs to determine if poor performance is intentional. Generally, unless employer states poor performance was due to lack of ability or skill, not intent, IL should approve. Otherwise, Illinois assumes intent, denies the claim, and you will need to appeal. It should not take IL more than two weeks to make this decision. If no answer by Monday, email your Illinois state representative to get IL to make a decision.


      The sooner you get an answer, the sooner you can appeal if that is what is necessary.

  • Alita

    What happens if I still haven’t found a job and my benefits run out. Is there an extension? Someone said that I would be able to still get the dependent allowance? Is this true? If there is no extension for benefit what are other options for help?

    • There are no extensions available. Congress discontinued that program in December 2013. The dependent allowance for your benefits should have been applied for at the time you first filed your claim. Your only other options now are Illinois Social Services for help with food and other expenses.

  • Cj

    I have been employed for 5 months. My employer has cut my hours from 40 to 32 and reduced my pay by $2 an hour. I was told I don’t meet their expectations for parts of the job. If I quit, am I eligible to collect?

    • A 20% cut in hours and resultant cut in pay should be considered a material change, but these issues in IL are decided on a case by case basis, so there is no guarantee of an approval.

      Before you quit, you need to “address the grievance” in writing with the employer by stating a 20% cut in hours is a material change in your original employment contract, the reduction in income is a hardship, and ask for restoration to a 40/hr. week. You can also state that if this is not possible, you have no recourse but to consider this a discharge from your original position and are refusing the offer of a 32/hr week as new unsuitable work as to hours/pay reduction, and have concluded your original employment has been terminated. If you are lucky your employer may actually discharge you.

      If employer does not discharge you and you decide to refuse this offer of new unsuitable work, apply for benefits stating you were discharged because your skills didn’t match the employer’s needs. Employer, of course will say you had quit.

      IL will query you and the employer. You provide Illinois a copy of the communications on this issue.

      IL is reasonable on issues like these and should approve benefits.

  • PB

    Is it true that the max a single person can receive in Chicago is around $380 a week? Which is terrible. Or is it a percentage of ones salary and possibly more ?

    • Maximum Illinois benefit can be as high as $426/wk. IL also pays a dependent allowance up to a total weekly benefit of $580/week.

      IL says this on how it calculates benefits.

      47% of total 2 high quarters divided by 26 – pays no more than 25 weeks, not to exceed $426/wk.

      Your weekly benefit amount is determined by adding together your earnings in the two quarters of the base period when you earned the most, taking 47% of that total, then dividing the result by 26. The current maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Illinois is $426 per week.

      Illinois also offers an allowance to filers who are married and whose spouses don’t work. You may claim the nonworking spouse allowance or the dependent child allowance, but not both. (To find out the current amounts of these extra benefits, contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security.)

      Benefits are available for up to 25 weeks, for claims filed after the beginning of 2012.

      Schedule of WBA/dependent allowance, here:

  • James McCann

    Do I get paid one lump sum for 2 weeks? I received benefit payment, but it was only for 1 week. I looked online and it says 2 weeks received, but the amount of pay is only 1 week. Will I get paid the balance in a week or something? Or do I need to call? It’s been a total of 3 weeks, so the waiting week has been met.

  • Stormy

    Fired August 9 2016 due to a very strict attendance policy (I had to miss work because I was beat by 30+ hoodlums) and was in the hospital due to this. Filed for Unemployment in Illinois August28 2016. My claim was adjudicated then I had an interview September 19 2016 and submitted my medical papers as ordered and days later received all my unemployment payments at once. Now all the sudden I had an appealing hearing November 17 2016 which i rescheduled in the legal amount of time (ten days). It has been rescheduled for December 13 2016. My question is how can an emoloyer appeal after so many months? I thought they only had 30 days to do so? Also how can they appeal my claim when I submitted medical records supporting how I was beaten by a mob of hoodlum kids and IDES approved my payment? Would it benefit me to first challenege their appeal timing?

    • States give employers a lot of latitude on appeals b/c employers are paying for the unemployment benefit program. Some allow appeals a year after benefits have been paid. The timely filing of an appeal – in real life – only applies to claimant. Employers can do pretty much whatever the state allows – and in most states it’s a lot. Your medical records don’t prevent them filing yet another appeal. Many employers hire professional services such as TALX to keep appealing until they can’t. It’s a numbers game – they win some, they lose some. Whether or not you want to challenge the appeal on timing depends on their reason for their late filing. The states allow the flimsiest of excuses – like “I didn’t get a notice of the decision” – an outright lie, but usually that excuse is enough of a reason. You would have to prove they did get the notice, which you have no way of doing.

      • Stormy

        Can you give me some guidance on the best way to defend my benefits as they are appealing on grounds of attendane policy they have which is beyond reasonable but that is neither here or there all I know is I was beaten and car totaled by a mob of individuals and is was a situation I had no control over and I did my job to the best of my ability…..any and all help is super appreciated as I usually just work a job. This is totally all new to me and just dont want to get messed over because I didnt know something…..THANK YOU!!!!

        • You’ve already won – twice. Doesn’t matter what their policy is. The events were totally beyond your control. The evidence you have is sufficient. Don’t worry about it. Illinois will see right through them. They are only appealing for harassment.

  • Kenneth Nowak

    I filed, and was approved for benefits which I have been collecting for two months. After about 4 weeks I was sent a letter sayind that I would be getting a phone call for an appeal. I received that phone call, and the person asked me a few questions about why I was fired, or more to the point the reason the company said I was fired. I answered her questions, and she said I was still eligible to collect. About 3 more weeks went by and I received another letter from IDES, a notice of Reconsideration and Appeal. It says I will have another phone call and that my claim was appealed again. I am VERY nervous as I have not been able to find a job yet and do not want to lose my home and car. Is there something I need to do before this meeting? Get an attorney? And how would I find out if this second appeal was filed in a timely matter? Please help-thank you

    • Doesn’t matter if appeal was filed in timely manner. States rarely, almost never, deny an employer an appeal hearing – even a year after the fact. Hard to say if you need an atty. You don’t cite what employer is accusing you of or why they are contesting. They may have no grounds whatsoever, but some employers keep at it until they’ve exhausted all remedies.

  • Daynell

    Today I had a appeal hearing the company did not participate the judge asked a couple of questions not many and basically told me it looks good but I can’t give detail over the phone and wait for a letter in the mail. Is this a good sign I’ll be winning my case?

  • Andre Dixon

    I filed with IDES Nov. 6 2016 I was laid off Nov. 5 2016 I received 2 UI letters in the mail the first one denied my claim, the second one gave me the benefit amount. I have yet to receive a payment. then to make matters worse I called the 800 number and after being on hold for about 40 minutes I get an answer then the guy tell me to hold so after waiting 15 minutes the call was disconnected I called right back and they were closed. Very pissed!!!!!!

    • The notice of benefit amount does not mean approval, regardless that it arrived after the denial. The states often mail out notices of denial/benefit amount in reverse order which confuses people.

      On what basis were you denied? The letter must give a reason. Assume you were denied until you are told otherwise. IL also has offices you can visit. If you can’t get through on the phone, visit a local office.

      Or, email your state representative. State reps respond very quickly. Find yours, here:


      Four weeks after application should provide a better status of your situation than what you received so far. The rep will get Illnois moving.

  • Rich

    My 26 weeks of benefits recently ran out. When I certified online a few weeks back, the web site gave me my next certification date, so again I certified on that date, and then it still gave my next certification date. Do I need to keep certifying even though my benefits ran out?

  • Mary

    I am 63 years old and suffered a stroke in April 2016. I was paid for my unused vacation and personal days and did not return after 16 years. I filed for unemployment last week and was told I need a phone interview because my application stated I left voluntarily. I have tried to find work unsuccessfully. Will I qualify?

    • Medical reasons qualify as justifiable for a quit – but you must now be Able and Availabe to search for and accept work. You will need to provide proof of your medical issue at the time you quit and another statement from your doctor saying you are now fit for work. Otherwise, IL will grant the claim but not pay benefits until you are Able and Available.

  • Laura

    I have exhausted my 26 weeks of unemployments benefits. I have had some job interviews but no offers. Is there any provision for receiving an extension of benefits?

  • Kathryn

    If receiving benefits, but have a part-time job, and my pay went over the amount of my weekly benefit in that part-time position, I assumed I was done with Unemployment benefits, and if I needed them again I would have to file a new claim.
    However, a month has passed since I was not eligible for a benefit payment and my work hours decreased again. I went to ides to file a new online claim, and it says I already have an active claim in the system (it suggested I certify for benefits.) Do I need to just certify, or do I need to file a new claim? I haven’t certified for two periods because I thought I was done. Any help?

    • You are allowed one claim in any 52-week period. You cannot open a new claim at this time because the benefit year for your original claim has not yet expired. The current claim needs to be reopened. So, yes, resume certifying again. Assuming benefits under this claim have not been exhausted, IL will reopen the claim. IL may also require a nonmonetary interview before it resumes paying – i.e., investigate why you stopped claiming. IL will notify you if an interview is necessary.

  • jamal

    Did ides celebrate veterans day Friday or Monday? Will that push my money back a day I certified Monday and suppose to get it Wednesday.

  • Kim

    I am currently receiving unemployment. I worked one day as an election judge in Cook County. (Nov 8th). Do I need to show this as one day work?

  • Cindy Lynn

    My husband and I own an S Corporation. We have no work. Can we file for unemployment?

    • Did the S Corporation pay FUTA taxes on your W-2 wages to the State of Illinois for both of you? The answer to that should be a NO. Business owners – whether ICs, partners, shareholders – are ineligible for unemployment benefits – for obvious reasons – they can choose to work or not work.

  • Marie

    Hi i missed my phone interview to determine if im elgible i was able to reach the interviewer she called me back and stated she did call which i have records proving she did not but she stated that no interview was needed she just used the info i filled out to make a decision and i will recieve a letter in 3 to 5 business days until then continue to certify this was 3 days ago i checked my status online and it stated i could not certify yet that my first weeks of certifying was being processed. What does this mean does it mean im approved?

    • If there was an issue, she would have called. Sounds like an approval may be forthcoming. Fyi, generally, if employer cites misconduct or quit without cause, no matter what you say, you’ll be denied and need to appeal. So, interviews generally don’t accomplish much in those cases. If yours was a straight lay-off and employer said as much, there should not be a problem. Wait a few days. By Monday or Tuesday of next week you should have your answer.

      • Marie

        Ok thank you, i checked today and now it just tell me to certify on my designated day it no longer say in progress, and no i was fired but with no real explanation, never been wrote up, late never had a verbal or written warning was a top performer there, HR fired me not laid me off but gave me a letter stating that niether party wants to comment on any wrong doing and told me gp file for unemployment my hr rep suggested it. So if im approved when should i expect payment my phone interview was scheduled for nov 7

  • Maria

    Exhausted my 6 months of unemployment, worked at my company for 18yrs, am still unavailable to find a job. Could I file for a 2nd benefit year?

    • You cannot file another claim until the benefit year for the first claim has expired. If you filed in April/May 2016, you cannot file again until April/May 2017. Further, you will need to have worked and earned new income to qualify for a second benefit year – and will need to show new earnings in one quarter of at least $1,600 and $440 in the second quarter.

      Quarters remaining in your benefit year are quarters ending 12/31/2016 and 03/31/2017. So, try to find some holiday and other work for those periods. If you do, your second claim next year may be as good as your first due to the LAG (unused earnings) from the first claim.

      Chances are this LAG is close to six months’ earnings. This LAG is what will provide the REAL benefit – but it cannot be used if you don’t show new earnings during the current benefit year, so try to find some work.

      Good luck.

  • Nina

    I was laid off and began receiving unemployment benefits. Accepted a new position with a company, reported this to UI, benefits ended. This new position is not a fit. Can I reopen the claim with my previous employer and resume benefits?

    • If you quit, Illinois will want to know why. Illinois may reopen the claim if you can convince Illinois that the duties and skills do not match yours and the job was misrepresented to you. Illinois is fairly reasonable on that issue but will conduct an investigation, which means a delay in benefits. Depending on the interviewer, you may get a denial because of the quit and need to appeal.

  • Danyell

    I was fired the last week of September i filed for ui that next day, I had a phone interview on 10/7/2016 with ui still have not received a decision, whenever I call I’m told it’s till being processed, Is this normal?

  • Cynthia

    Pls can someone help me on this information, I am a U.S citizen but have been living abroad, I just returned back to the states with my child, I have no job yet even though I have been applying, I have never worked in the U.S., am I eligible to apply for unemployment benefit?

  • Tyler Nuckles

    I certified for two weeks worth of it and I’m new to unemployment stuff will I recurve benefits before the phone interview or after the interview I have a dependent child.

    • No benefits until after the interview, earliest. If IL hasn’t talked with your employer, it will wait another week or more. If still no employer response, IL may grant benefits – but suspend if employer responds late raising an eligibility issue. There is no one-size-fits-all in how soon or how long an approval will take.

  • Hi my name is Stephanie and I got fired Aug 9th 2016 and filed for unemployment…now I had a phone interview last week and I certify already for 2 weeks now and still haven’t received my money…how can I find out what is going on with my case…I haven’t received any letters…please help I’m a single mother of 3

  • LHMorrison

    I have started my 16th week of unemployment benefits after my job was eliminated.

    In week 14, I was paid for 8 hours of work when I was taking a test to see if I qualified for a part time job.

    In week 15, I was paid for 34 hours of training, to see if I qualify for the same part time job.

    If I get the job, it will run for 8 weeks, and i will make more than my unemployment benefits each of those weeks.

    However, I know that the job is ending after election day.

    is there a way to put my unemployment benefits on hold and start them up again after this part time job ends, if I don’t have a full time job then?

    • Stop claiming when you begin work. The claim will automatically close. When the job ends, you need to REOPEN the claim. Call Illinois to REOPEN or REOPEN the claim online if Illinois has that capability. Illinois will need to conduct an investigation of why the job ended before it resumes benefits.

  • Alice Monroe

    I am applying for benefits after being let go after 16 years. I have two minor children and would like to claim them as dependents. My husband collected benefits this year for about five months and he claimed the kids as dependents in his filing. Can I also claim my kids as dependents or, because my husband already claimed them this year, are they not eligible?

    • Has your husband exhausted his benefits or is there a balance remaining? If not, then you may not be able to claim a dependent benefit. By all means, however, try. IL may decide if husband is not currently drawing, you can claim the dependent benefits, instead.

  • Desperately wanting to know

    If you were living in another state (Iowa) and they denied you for your unemployment benefits but I currently live in Chicago, can i try to file unemployment here?????

    • No, you cannot file in Illinois unless you’ve recently lost employment in Illinois and have wages in the Illinois database. If you feel you have good cause for the job loss in Iowa, appeal the Iowa decision through the Iowa unemployment office – if you are still within the appeal timeframe.

  • Darnell Smith

    So if I missed my day of certifying when should I expect my funds??

  • Jim Bob

    I exhausted my benefits from one employer back in Feb 2016 after working for them for 20 years. I began working for a new employer in May 2016 and have been let go. Am I eligible again?

    • You now REOPEN the February claim and continue to collect benefits under that claim until exhausted. You probably have about 18-20 weeks remaining. You will not be eligible for another new claim until February 2017, when the benefit year of the current claim expires. Fortunately, you have now worked and you should have an excellent LAG (unused earnings) remaining from your first claim, so in February 2017, should you still be unemployed, you will qualify for a new claim almost as substantial as the one you have now.

  • Andrea Holt

    I certified already .. I just wanted to know how long would it take to approve me ?? .. And where is my money ??

    • Length of time to approval can be as quick as three weeks, as long as a couple of months. It depends on the circumstances of your separation. If employer cites misconduct, or you quit, Illinois will investigate – which means you are interviewed several weeks or longer after you apply – which extends the length of time before you can be approved.

  • Shannon

    How many dependents can you claim? When I filed my claim over the phone she only asked for information on my youngest daughter but I have three total daughters all under 18. Am I suppose to get extra pay on my unemployment payments for for only one child or should I be getting extra pay for all three of my dependents (daughters)


  • Rick P

    I worked 2 jobs. My full time job closed the office I was working in. My part time job I quit to move back to Texas. I have been denied benefits because I quit my part time job. Will an appeal be the only recourse? The 800 number is a joke. Over being on hold for more than 40 mins only to be told the same info I already know. They will provide no assistance. I have been hung up on just trying to find out why the 800 number is my only connection. Illinois sucks

    • Appeal is the only recourse if you’ve been denied. That said, you can appeal, but you won’t win. Your timing was wrong. You should have quit the part-time job a few months before losing the full-time job. Moving to another state is not good cause for a quit in Illinois unless you are following a spouse who has taken a job in another state.

  • Tonya

    I was on FMLA my employer gave my job to a fellow co-worker, told me I could take another position at the same pay got 2 of my doctors to release me then they told me I needed to go to their doctor so I did he released me but then when I called no one would answer my call so I could be put back on the schedule. I applied for UI which has been denied because employer states i resigned which is not true. How do I prove I didn’t resign?

    • First, file an appeal request. Then, list in chronological order the exact sequence of events, and assemble any and all paperwork, including emails, you have on your FMLA, including any phone logs of attempts to reach your employer. Present this evidence at your appeal hearing. Your situation is very common for those on FMLA – a discharge at the end of FMLA, with the employer citing a quit. Illinois has heard this story, before.

  • Elizabeth Medina

    Unemployment Insurance Benefits Denied?

    Was a question raised regarding your eligibility for benefits? Is your former employer fighting your unemployment insurance claim? Are you looking to appeal and receive the benefits you deserve? If so, then can help!

    I’m a paralegal who is eligible, by state law, to represent an individual or entity in any proceeding before the Director, referee or board of review (see 820 ILCS 405/806 of the Unemployment Insurance Act). I can not only help you fill out appeal forms or fill them out for you, but I can also help you understand the appeal process and even represent you at your appeal hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

    I have won simple and complex appeals for myself in the past and am extremely confident I can help win yours and I’ll charge you a fraction of what an employment attorney would charge you.

    Free initial half hour consultation. Call me today at (847) 293-7044 or drop me an E-Mail at Serving a claimants in the following counties: Lake, Cook, McHenry, DuPage

    • SD


      I would like to know if I can file an appeal after the deadline. I was unable to file an appeal due to depression from my daughter being suicidal and other family issues.

  • J. Vel.

    I registered and put three dependents (my kids). I got a letter approving unemployment, but nothing for dependents. When I registered online, it said dependent pay is $100. I have been trying to call, but it says high call volume, try again later. Will a separate letter come, or have my dependents been denied? Please communicate. Thanks.

    • If your online status indicates a dependent payments, your dependents have been approved. Illinois may or may not send a followup letter on that issue. For now, go with what you are told online.

  • Kat

    I applied online 12/17/15. .Laid off 12/15/15. .I applied online, received UI Finding letter. Is this approved? It says certify 1/5/16. .Do I get benefits for 3 weeks? Cannot get through to them via phone. Thanks

    • No, a UI Finding letter is NOT an approval. It is merely a notice of what your weekly benefit will be if you are approved. Keep claiming. If there are no issues, you may very well find money on your card or in your account before you receive a formal approval notice – or your online status may notify you, as well.

  • Jacki

    i got my card about 4 days ago and activated it zero balance too. illinois says it will take up to 72 hrs after u get ur card and certify it has been 240 hrs for me where is the money???

    • Your card will not show a balance until your claim has been approved and Illinois authorizes payment of these benefits. Receipt of the card and notice of benefit award are NOT approvals. Normally, if you’ve been submitting claims, it takes at the very minimum three weeks before monies appear on the card – and that is if yours is a clean discharge with no issues. If Illinois needs to investigate the separation, it could take many more weeks before payment is made.

  • I’ve received my Chase Debit Card from the State of Illness. I activated it as required, and the card showed a zero balance. How can it be zero when I just got the card. I tried calling all the numbers associated with he card, and I couldn’t get through, and no live people to speak to. Is there any adult supervision in the State of Illness? No I didn’t misspell Illinois, it is a State full of Ill politicians who haven’t a clue about the problems in their system.

    • Tonya

      I just got mine today. Activated it. Zero balance also

      • Ben Bradley

        I have been approved for benefits for over a month. I have been emailed, called, harrassed, called a liar, and flat out been shown the door by the people at the Lawrence street office. I am owed over $2000 for a wrongful termination. NADA ZERO YOURE FU@KED PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY CUCKOLD FU@KED.

        • @ben -your card will not show a balance until your claim has been approved and Illinois authorizes payment of these benefits. Receipt of the card and notice of benefit award are NOT approvals. Normally, if you’ve been submitting claims, it takes at the very minimum three weeks before monies appear on the card – and that is if yours is a clean discharge with no issues. Sounds like you may have issues with your discharge, in which case it could take much longer before Illinois approves the claim.

      • @Tonya – again, your card will not show a balance until your claim has been approved and Illinois authorizes payment of these benefits. Receipt of the card and notice of benefit award are NOT approvals. Normally, if you’ve been submitting claims, it takes at the very minimum three weeks before monies appear on the card – and that is if yours is a clean discharge with no issues. If Illinois needs to investigate the separation, it could take many more weeks before payment is made.

    • Dillon

      Same situation and I applaud this post

      • @dillon – your card will not show a balance until your claim has been approved and Illinois authorizes payment of these benefits. Receipt of the card and notice of benefit award are NOT approvals. Normally, if you’ve been submitting claims, it takes at the very minimum three weeks before monies appear on the card – and that is if yours is a clean discharge with no issues. If Illinois needs to investigate the separation, it could take many more weeks before payment is made.

    • @william – your card will not show a balance until your claim has been approved and Illinois authorizes payment of these benefits. Receipt of the card and notice of benefit award are NOT approvals. Normally, if you’ve been submitting claims, it takes at the very minimum three weeks before monies appear on the card – and that is if yours is a clean discharge with no issues. If Illinois needs to investigate the separation, it could take many more weeks before payment is made.

  • Mike h

    Im trying to just Register.Every time i do It says cant complete Registration.I call that number and its busy ….Help?

  • Todd Lichtenwalter

    I’m about to lose my job plant is closing. I’m waiting to go to college can I able to receive unemployment pay still?

    • You will need to get Illinois’ approval for your class schedule. You need to assure Illinois that you are Able and Available to work – i.e., you are continuing a work search and will accept suitable full-time work if offered and that you would be willing to drop out of school or adjust your class schedule to accommodate suitable employment.

  • I will soon need to file for unemployment but I will also be receiving 5 weeks vacation at the end of my work schedule in one lump sum. How will this affect my unemployment and can I specify the start day of unemployment benefits?

    • Just apply for the claim, report the vacation pay when you receive it and for the period to which it applies. Under normal circumstances, vacation pay which was earned prior to layoff will not affect your benefits. In other words, you will experience a the normal Illinois unpaid waiting week. Benefits should be payable beginning the second week after layoff.

  • I was wondering if I can file for the summer? I work very part time for a school district as a crossing guard. Please let me know, thanks.

    • Seasonal school employees usually have problems because summers off is part of the employment contract. You can file, but chances are your School District will object. They usually do. You might get around this if you do not have a contract to return in the fall. That said, you have only a 50% chance of approval, if that. But, by all means, try.

  • I live in Iowa, I have wages in Iowa and Wisconsin. I recently had a job in Illinois and he didn’t file a W-2 because I was under the amount. I was let go from that employer. How do I file for unemployment benefits and in what state?

    • File for benefits in Iowa – which pays substantially more than Wisconsin. Request a combine-wage claim to include the Wisconsin wages. Iowa will investigate the circumstances of your job losses in Illinois, Iowa and WI – even though Illinois wages may not appear in any database.

  • Recently my employer cut my hours from 14 to 10 I have worked for a year. May I apply for supplement benefits?

    • You can apply for partial benefits. See page 21, here:

      for how Illinois calculates benefits. You would need to know your regular weekly benefit in order to do a correct calculation. Generally, your Weekly Benefit Amount in Illinois is 47% of the total of your 2 high quarters in the base period divided by 26.

      If you work while collecting benefits, Illinois grosses up that benefit 50% from which it would deduct your reduced earnings and pay you the difference.


      $100 – Weekly benefit Amount
      $150 – Partial Benefit Amount (WBA + 50%)
      $-75 – Less: Your gross (b/4 deductions) weekly earnings
      $x75 – Benefit paid by Illinois

  • where can i get a copy of my w2’s

  • Need to apply for second benefit year

  • For two days the Illinois Department of Employment Services line has been busy and my DP is two days late even after certifying on my day on time. Is there some sort of issue with payments going through in IL because for two days it says that they have been processing my benefits… This is concerning because I am no where near 26 weeks I was approved for…

    • Illinois is most likely undergoing technology issues – or it may be experiencing lack of funds to pay benefits. Lack of funds does happen in the states from time to time. Illinois has budget issues. This could be a reason for the delay.

  • Hello I ask if I can apply for Unemployment but , i quit from my job and I will move to another state because of my father i take care of him he is disable so can i apply for it

    • Yes, a quit to care for an ill parent is good cause, and Illinois will grant a claim. However, in order for Illinois to pay benefits and for you to collect benefits you still need to be Able and Available to to search for and accept work at your new location.


  • i was a caregiven for my dad from march 12-2012 to april 13-2014 my dad die i need your help i have bills to pay i miss my dad i have my mom she is 84 my home nub is 847-455-7643 help me

    • You need to call Illinois Social Services for help. Unless you were employed by an agency which paid FUTA taxes for unemployment benefits, you would not be eligible for unemployment benefits, but there might be other welfare benefits available.

  • I was approved for benefits since oct 2013 till oct 2014 and now have recieved a letter about the employer filing an appeal.. I don’t understand this.. Is that possible after being approved already?

    • Yes, employers often contest a claim, long after it has been approved and benefits paid. The reason for this is they’ve received a notice of increase in their UI FUTA taxes. This increase is based on their claim history. For this reason, many employers make it a practice to contest any and all claims – even a year later. Some states allow it, others don’t.

  • i missed my phone hearing due to phone complications have tried to contact office by phone but have been unsuccessful. I need to know how do I go by rescheduling my phone hearing if possible or do I have to recertify and start all over. please help i learning the online process on my own.

    • No, if you’ve already opened a claim, don’t try to do so again. The system won’t let you. Illinois is investigating the circumstances of your job loss. First step is the interview. If no interview is held, Illinois will eventually make a determination on the best available information. If their decision is not favorable, then you will need to appeal.

  • I went out of country on emergency basis to see my father as he was on deathbed and I could not inform unemployment office n I calimed already when I was leaving but I didnt receive any thing n now I am back n I got some letter from unemployment office saying there was an interview secduled for me n I didnt attended.I dont know how to go n what to do.

    • You call Illinois and set up another interview. If you claimed before you left the country, you should not have a problem being paid once you’ve cleared up Illinois’ questions. The interview is probably unrelated to that trip. If, however, you attempted to claim outside the US, you will need to prove to Illinois that you were in the US the entire week for which you claimed benefits.

  • I went to apply for ides and talk to them on the phone,and they said they was going to call me at a certain time and never did.i havent even got a letter!

    • This is a common occurrence. Chances are IDES will call you another time. It may also be IDES has determined it doesn’t need an interview. Watch your mail. You may be receiving something shortly.

  • Last week on Wednesday 12/11/13, I certified for benefits, but none came to my account. Where do I contact to find out why I did not receive anything?

  • I am still employed with DHS but, I haven’t had a client since May 01, 2013. I’m trying to start my unemployment benefits. On the unemployment site it says that I am already in

  • Certified for my benefits on Tuesday 11/27/13 I was to receive my benefits on Thursdsy 11/28/13.However because of the Thanksgiving holiday it should have posted today Friday,11/29/13.What is the problem now need my benefits today not next week?

    • Banks do not update their systems the night of a holiday. Further, the day after Thanksgiving is also often a holiday. Earliest you might see a payment will be the Monday after the holiday.

      • Angel

        Will the payment still show in the view detail payment history section on the ides account. I certified on 11/23 and usually my payment will show it will post at midnight in the view payment history section. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the office is closed. I just really need to know if I’ll receive my benefits.

  • Signed up for benefits over 3 weeks , my claim was approved. But I have not received my check. When will I get it? Please reply.

    • Are you sure your claim was approved? You may have received a notice of benefit award, but that does not mean an approval. Approval within three weeks is very fast. Normally, Illinois needs to contact your employer, wait for a response. Continue to claim. Further, Illinois is no longer paying by check. It is using direct deposit to your bank account or will pay via debit card.

  • My unemployment benefits expired on Oct 23rd 2013, I was able to certify on Monday of this week. I didn’t receive my last check so now I’m uncertain about what I need to do.

    • That date isn’t correct. October 23, 2013 is a Wednesday. In most states, unemployment benefit years expire at the end of a 7-day week, on a Saturday. Your claim has expired on October 12th or October 19th. Check your claim information.

  • I have recived a notice of possible Ineligibility the day after the day I was given to call. I have tryed and tryed to call with no luck getting through. I have paid into the system for 45 years and now that i need help i cant get any. CAN ANYONE HELP?????

    • emsteger

      Only employers pay into the unemployment fund. EMPLOYEES never contribute any money for unemployment benefits. You paid plenty of taxes over 45 years but not for these benefits……

    • @charles – a notice of possible ineligibility doesn’t mean anything unless you are told why. There could be many reasons for this, your employer reported wages to another state, Illinois database is not up to date, you are working for a nonprofit. Generally, when there are questions, Illinois will set up a time for an interview. Fyi, in Illinois you are not paying FUTA tax for unemployment benefits. Only employers pay this tax.

      If you remain unable to get through, contact your state representative. Often that’s all that’s needed to get Illinois to respond. Find your state legislator, here:

  • I need to know how to get my paychecks from unemployment in Chicago IL. I was at there office for 6 1/2 hrs.I had to leave I had to pic up my daughter. I think its crazy someone has to wait for that long.

    • You shouldn’t ever need to visit an office to pick up a “check.” Illinois does not pay unemployment benefits by check. Per the Illinois website:

      “All claimants are defaulted to the debit card payment method until you enroll in direct deposit (online only). ”

      You should have received a debit card in the mail.


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