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 unemployment 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:
- Being laid off as a result of business closing, lack of hours
- 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: https://benefits.ides.illinois.gov
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: http://www.ides.illinois.gov/page.aspx?module=13&item=31. 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: http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Custom/Library/publications/Publications/
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: https://benefits.ides.illinois.gov/File4UI/Benefits/
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.
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
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:
File for Benefits:
Phone: (800) 244-5631
Guide to Illinois Unemployment Insurance:
Find out Which Illinois Employers are having layoffs
Job Search and Training