Federal Benefits - Illinois Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Discover how Illinois unemployment benefits and eligibility work, including who qualifies, how much claimants can expect to receive and what you need to do to maintain eligibility.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) administers unemployment insurance benefits in the state of Illinois. Tax contributions made by employers fund these benefits. You may be entitled to temporarily claim unemployment benefits if you're out of work or working reduced hours, provided you meet Illinois' benefits eligibility criteria. Understanding how Illinois unemployment benefits and eligibility work can make it easier to file a claim.

How Do Illinois Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility Work?

You can apply for Illinois unemployment benefits if you meet the earnings criteria and are unemployed for reasons that are not your fault. You will need to provide the following information during your application:

  • Your Social Security or Alien Registration number
  • Names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for any dependents
  • 18-month work history, including your employers' contact information, employment dates and why you left
  • Driver's license or state ID
  • DD form 214/215 Member 4 (ex-military personnel)
  • Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50 (if you worked for the federal government)

You can apply for unemployment benefits online through the IDES website or visit your nearest IDES office or Illinois workNET Center to apply in person. You can get help with your claim by calling the Claimant Services hotline at (800) 244-5631.

IDES will then send you a UI Finding statement. This will explain whether your claim was successful as well as how much you will receive and for how long. You will then receive payments biweekly. You must call IDES every week to certify your claim or certify online as instructed in your UI Finding statement to verify that you are still eligible for benefits. IDES will send you a debit card and load your benefits onto it unless you request payment by direct transfer. 

What Are the Illinois Unemployment Benefits Eligibility Criteria?

Illinois requires claimants to meet earnings and non-monetary eligibility criteria to be awarded benefits. You'll also need to meet weekly eligibility requirements to continue claiming unemployment benefits once your application is approved. 

Monetary Eligibility

IDES calculates your monetary eligibility by adding up your earnings during the base period. Like most states, Illinois uses the first four financial quarters of the five quarters before you file your claim as the base period.

To qualify, you must have been paid a minimum of $1,600 during your base period, at least $440 of which must have been earned outside the quarter in which you were paid the most. 

Non-Monetary Eligibility

You can only receive Illinois unemployment benefits if your unemployment or reduced hours are not your fault. Illinois will usually approve claimants terminated for reasons other than misconduct or who quit their job for reasons beyond their control. Illinois considers the following as acceptable reasons to leave employment when considering unemployment benefit eligibility:

  • Workplace harassment
  • Domestic violence
  • Job unsuitability — for example, if you're no longer to perform your role due to health reasons
  • Relocation due to your spouse's job

You could also be deemed ineligible if you do not apply for or accept an offer of employment, unless you have good reason to think it is unsuitable. Acceptable reasons to refuse an employment offer include unsafe working conditions or conditions causing a religious or moral conflict. 

Weekly Eligibility

You'll need to certify weekly over the phone or through the IDES portal to maintain your benefits eligibility in Illinois. You will also be required to have completed a waiting week following your claim, during which you will receive no benefits. 

You must be available and able to work for every week you receive benefits. This means that you need to be ready to work as soon as work becomes available, and you must accept any suitable work offer that is made to you. You will be expected to demonstrate that you are actively seeking work by searching and applying for any suitable position. You must also engage with the Illinois Employment Service to help you find work. 

Any work included in your eligibility calculation must be covered by the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act. This means that your former employer made regular contributions to state funds. Most employed work will count as insured. However, some types of employment are uninsured, such as working purely on commission as a solicitor. 

How Much Will I Be Paid?

IDES bases your weekly benefit payments on your base period earnings. It does this by calculating the amount you were paid in the two quarters when you earned the most and multiplying it by 0.47. This figure is then divided by 26 to give a weekly amount. Like most U.S. states, Illinois pays benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks except during national emergencies, when the period may be extended. 

You may receive a higher amount than your base rate if you have dependents. The maximum weekly benefits you can receive are:

  • No dependents: $484
  • Dependent spouse: $577
  • One or more dependent children: $669

What Makes You Ineligible for Unemployment Benefits in Illinois?

You will be ineligible for benefits in Illinois if you don't meet the eligibility criteria detailed above. You will also be disqualified if you were dismissed because you committed a crime.

You can also lose your benefits eligibility if you fail to meet the weekly requirements during your claim period. Failing to certify weekly by phone or online could result in you losing your benefits for that week. You could also lose eligibility if you don't accept a suitable job offer or aren't available or able to work. Illinois will consider you unavailable or unable to work if:

  • You need to stay at home to care for dependents
  • You go on vacation
  • You are too sick to work
  • You relocate to an area with poor employment opportunities compared to your previous location
  • You have unreasonable job requirements, such as insisting on restricted hours

You have the right to appeal if your benefits application is denied. You should appeal in writing within 30 days of being told that your claim was unsuccessful.