Unemployment Benefits in Illinois


You can claim unemployment benefits in Illinois if you have suddenly been terminated or laid off from your job through no fault of your own. An unemployment benefits claim should be filed within the week that you become unemployed. Federal unemployment benefits are actually managed in state by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The benefits that the IDES disperses to qualified claimants are intended to help compensate any lost wages as a result of unemployment. These benefits are paid to you in regular increments after filing for benefits, and the amount paid to you depends on your working conditions prior to becoming unemployed. Information on claiming benefits for unemployment can be found in the sections below, including an outline of what types of benefits you can expect to receive, how long you are allowed to receive benefits and how to calculate your unemployment benefit amount.

What benefits do you receive?

Knowing how to claim unemployment benefits in Illinois begins with knowing what benefits a claimant is eligible to receive. Filing a claim for unemployment benefits is similar to filing other types of insurance claims in that you receive benefits for a certain type of emergency. With regards to claiming benefits for unemployment, that emergency is the loss of your job. Federal unemployment benefits managed through the IDES take the form of payments made to you on a biweekly basis, if you qualify. You will need to claim your unemployment benefits every two weeks in order to receive payment in the form of direct deposit or through an IDES-issued debit card.

Keep in mind that claiming unemployment benefits is not like receiving benefits for government welfare programs, like Social Security. The unemployment program is only intended to offer a temporary solution to your lack of work. As such, claiming benefits for unemployment can only be done for a maximum of 26 weeks within a 12-month period, called a base period. However, you may learn how to obtain an unemployment benefits extension if you meet certain conditions. Note that Unemployment benefits also include more than just cash payments. A major component of the unemployment insurance program includes its employment service, including the IDES website, which can help you find a new job after you have become unemployed.

How is your benefit amount determined?

After you learn how to apply for benefits and file the initial unemployment benefits claim, the Illinois Department of Employment Security will send you a document, called an Unemployment Insurance (UI) Finding, with the details of your unemployment insurance. Your federal unemployment benefits weekly amount will be stated on this document, as well as the total amount of benefits you can receive in the 12 month period, which is referred to as a base period. When you file a claim for unemployment benefits, the IDES will pay you the weekly amount that is stated on this document, as well as any allowances afforded to you to help care for qualified dependents. The amount of your unemployment benefits is largely based on how much money you earned in wages during the previous 12 months prior to your unemployment. The federal unemployment benefits paid to you will never amount to the full wages you earned while you were employed. Additionally, there is a legally specified maximum amount that the IDES can pay a claimant. While claiming unemployment insurance, you may also be also be eligible to receive partial benefits if you only worked part time. More details on how your benefit amount is determined can be found in our comprehensive guide, including details on dependents and how part-time work can affect your benefits.

What is the process for filing a weekly benefit claim?

Filing a weekly unemployment benefits claim is referred to as certifying your benefits and must be done every two weeks in order to receive your benefits payment. You can claim unemployment benefits for the previous two weeks that have passed prior to the date in which you certify your benefits. The IDES will assign you a call date on the UI Finding it sends you. This is the day of the week in which you are required to certify your benefits every two weeks. Your unemployment claim can be certified online or through Tele-Serve, which is the IDES automated telephone service. You cannot begin to claim unemployment, however, until after the one week waiting period has passed.

Remember that claiming benefits for unemployment requires you to learn about how to become eligible for unemployment first, such as by meeting certain work requirements. To claim unemployment benefits, you must be available and able to work while actively looking for a job. When you claim unemployment on a weekly basis, or certify your benefits, you will be asked to affirm that you have met those requirements during the weeks whose benefits you are certifying. Additionally, a weekly unemployment claim will involve questions about any income, either through work or other benefits, you may have earned during those weeks. You must answer all questions truthfully.

Your first unemployment benefits claim payment may take some time to arrive to you. Afterwards, unemployment benefit funds should appear on your account within a few days of certifying your benefits. If you want your federal unemployment benefits paid to you via direct deposit, you will need to register on the IDES for that service. Otherwise, your federal unemployment funds will be provided to you on a state issued debit card. You can find more details on the procedures involved in certifying for benefits on our downloadable comprehensive guide.