Unemployment Insurance Extensions in Illinois

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A federal unemployment extension in Illinois may sometimes be available to state residents who have exhausted all their unemployment insurance benefits. An unemployment benefits extension is part of a federally financed program that is typically available during times of high unemployment. There are two unemployment extension programs that may be offered during these times: Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits. Currently, unemployment extensions are not available in Illinois as there is no immediate employment crisis in the state. The information below refers to the extensions that the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) offered through the federal government up until January 1st, 2014. IL Unemployment benefit extensions may be offered again in the future if the U.S. Department of Labor deems it necessary. To find out all of the details on unemployment extensions and how they function, download our comprehensive, free guide.

What is an unemployment extension?

An unemployment compensation extension is basically an extension of any unemployment insurance benefits you may already receive. The federal unemployment extension programs are intended to provide individuals who have lost their jobs with continued benefits during times in which employment rates are lower than usual. When employment rates are very low, it may be increasingly difficult for unemployed Illinois residents to find a job. Unemployment benefit extensions ensure that claimants are not left without an income during these times. Because of this, unemployment extensions are typically only available for a limited period of time until employment rates increase.

Two unemployment extension programs existed in Illinois until 2014 when the federal government, along with the IDES, no longer deemed them necessary. One unemployment compensation extension program was simply referred to as Extended Benefits (EB), which ended in 2012. The other federal unemployment extension program was called Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), and this program ended on the first day of 2014. EUC extensions were issued to claimants in tiers, and certain tiers included certain eligibility conditions that largely depended on the state unemployment rate at the time. Unemployment extensions through these two programs were available to claimants who had used up all of their existing benefits but were still unemployed. Claimants who qualified for these extensions could continue to receive their previously determined benefit amounts, as well as any allowances, on a biweekly basis until they found suitable full-time work or the extension ran out.

How long do these extensions last?

When federal unemployment extensions in Illinois were in effect, qualified claimants were generally eligible for at least 13 additional weeks of benefits after their regular unemployment benefits had been exhausted. An additional unemployment extension could be granted to claimants for a maximum of 53 weeks over the 26 weeks for which a claimant would have originally qualified. The EB and EUC programs each had their own extension limits, with the EUC program consisting of four extension tiers. More details about these tiers and their respective limits can be found in our comprehensive guide. Since unemployment extensions were part of a federal unemployment program, the U.S. Department of Labor determined the extension limits for all states, including Illinois. An unemployment extension of 13 weeks was not a guarantee, however, and some claimants may have only been eligible for a shorter extension. The IDES was responsible for determining the length of a claimant’s unemployment extension. As with regular unemployment benefits, the IDES would cease to pay a claimant benefits once that claimant had found suitable full-time employment. Additionally, the IDES and the U.S. Department of Labor could announce at any time that extensions would cease to be offered to claimants once state and national unemployment rates return to acceptable levels.

Who is eligible for an extension?

A claimant may ask, ‘What can I do to extend unemployment benefits?’ if they find that that their benefits are about to run out and they are still without work. While information on how to get an unemployment extension is explained in this section, know that unemployment extensions are not currently available in the state of Illinois. This may change depending on state and national employment conditions. The IDES will provide details should unemployment extensions become available again. Claimants eligible for unemployment insurance extensions must first run out of the 26 weeks of benefits initially provided to them. Extended unemployment insurance benefits, when they were in effect, involved learning how to meet the eligibility requirements like regular unemployment insurance applicants. Claimants still needed to actively search for work while being able and available to accept a job when it was offered to them. Claimants were also encouraged to enhance their training and education so that they could find employment. Because of this, unemployment extension requirements included a mandatory skills exam and possible enrollment in a job training program.

How do you apply for an unemployment extension?

How can I extend unemployment?’ was a question many Illinois unemployment insurance claimants were asking when extensions were available. When IL unemployment extensions were offered through the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, many claimants were not required to apply for these benefit extensions. Rather, claimants could be automatically eligible for an EUC extension after their regular 26-week benefit period had ended. Typically, the IDES would contact claimants close to the end of their regular benefits period to inform them whether they qualified for an extension of benefits. Remember that extensions for unemployment benefits are currently unavailable in Illinois. The methods for getting an unemployment extension may change if and when extensions are offered again. As always, applicants will need to verify that they qualify, and they will need to learn how to receive and maintain benefits.