Illinois Unemployment Information – Benefits, Eligibility etc.

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.

Illinois Unemployment Qualifications

You may not be eligible under the following circumstances:

  • You were fired for misconduct
  • You quit your job by choice
  • You are missing work due to illness
  • You are not actively seeking work
  • You return to work
  • You refuse suitable work

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

  • You must have earned enough wages in the past 18 months in order for IDES to determine a weekly benefits amount
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. Qualifying circumstances include:
    1. Being laid off as a result of business closing, lack of hours
    2. Work hours cut below full time hours (not as a result of disciplinary action)

If you meet the above criteria, you may qualify to receive Illinois unemployment benefits and can start the application process.

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:

You must register to file online. If you have any questions in regards to applying online, you may call the IDES office at (800) 244-5631.

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 locater 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:

Receiving your Benefits

If you have been approved to receive benefits, you should receive your first payment within 3 weeks of filing your claim. Your benefits can last for up to 26 weeks and the amount that you receive weekly will depend on your prior income. Illinois allows claimants to receive $51-$358 per week for benefits. If you have a spouse who is also not working, the weekly benefits amount can be up to $459 and up to $534 if you have children as dependents. Illinois only allows you to claim either a spouse or children as dependents, not both.

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:

Certifying Weekly Benefits

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



In the event that you are declined for benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. In order to appeal, you will have to complete the Request for Reconsideration of Claims Adjudicator’s Determination form and mail it to your nearest IDES offices within 30 days of receiving the decision. You must identify why you are seeking an appeal and present evidence to support your claim.

If your request for reconsideration is denied, an appeal will be sent to the Appeals office. Once they have reviewed your appeal you will receive a letter notifying you of your hearing date. In the event that you miss your hearing you have the ability to file for a rehearing within 10 days of the original date. You must have a reasonable explanation for why you missed the original date.

You can also appeal directly to the Board of Reviews. You can either write out an appeals letter or complete the APL124F: Notice of Appeal/Board of Review form. All appeals can be mailed to:

Board of Review

IDES Board of Review
33 S State St, 9th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-2802

The last resort you have in appealing a decision is to file an appeal to the County Circuit Court within 35 days of receiving your decision.

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

Guide to Illinois Unemployment Insurance:

Find out Which Illinois Employers are having layoffs

Job Search and Training

87 Comments to “Illinois Unemployment Information – Benefits, Eligibility etc.”

  1. PATSY RAGLE says:


  2. 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.

  3. 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 says:

      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:

  4. Karen Harris says:

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Vanessa Land says:

    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.

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. sameer say says:

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.


  15. Dived Hermez says:

    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.

  16. Annonymous says:

    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.

  17. Need to apply for second benefit year

  18. where can i get a copy of my w2’s

  19. y. Turner says:

    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

  20. Anonymous says:

    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.

  21. Hope says:

    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.

  22. Sharon D. says:

    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.

  23. Todd Lichtenwalter says:

    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.

  24. Mike h says:

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

  25. William Konn says:

    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 says:

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

      • Ben Bradley says:

        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 [email protected] PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY CUCKOLD [email protected]

        • @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 says:

      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.

  26. Jacki says:

    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.

  27. Kat says:

    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.

  28. J. Vel. says:

    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.

  29. Elizabeth Medina says:

    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 [email protected]. Serving a claimants in the following counties: Lake, Cook, McHenry, DuPage

  30. Tonya says:

    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.

  31. Rick P says:

    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.

  32. Shannon says:

    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)


  33. Andrea Holt says:

    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.

  34. Jim Bob says:

    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.

  35. Darnell Smith says:

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

  36. Desperately wanting to know says:

    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.

  37. Alice Monroe says:

    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.

  38. LHMorrison says:

    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.

  39. Stephanie says:

    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

  40. Tyler Nuckles says:

    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.

  41. Cynthia says:

    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?

Leave a Comment