Employment and Financial Assistance

What is unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance provides temporary income assistance for those who have been separated from employment through no fault of their own and who meet certain eligibility requirements.

What are the eligibility requirements?

You must be unemployed through no fault of your own. You also must:

  1. be able (physically and mentally) and available for work;
  2. register with the state employment service; and,
  3. be actively seeking work.

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible at this time. To be eligible, you must be authorized to work in the U.S.

If you have reduced hours which results in your wages being less than what your unemployment benefit would be, you may qualify for some assistance.

For a full listing of eligibility requirements please review pages 4 through 6 of the IDES Unemployment Insurance Handbook. 

COVID-19:  There are different eligibility requirements if you were temporarily laid-off due to COVID-19 (see below).

Am I eligible if I was laid-off due to the COVID-19 virus?

Yes. Individuals who have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits as long as they are able, available, and actively seeking work. Under recently adopted emergency rules, the individual does not have to register with the employment service, and is instead considered to be actively seeking work as long as they are prepared to return to his or her job as soon as the employer re-opens.

What if I quit my job because I am concerned about COVID-19?

An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer.

What if I am confined to my home because a licensed physician has diagnosed me, or someone I must stay home to care for, with having COVID-19? What if the government imposes or recommends a quarantine?

An individual in any of those situations would be considered to be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. However, to qualify for UI, he or she would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements.

What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed and I feel I must stay home with them?

Under the current circumstances, someone who left work to care for their child could be considered as unemployed through no fault of his her own; in that case, to qualify for UI, the individual would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements.

For more information regarding unemployment due to COVID-19, please review the COVID-19 press release issued by IDES at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx.

Who administers unemployment insurance?

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

Website: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx

Phone Number: 800.244.5631

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

Visit the IDES website. Along with general demographic and background information, individuals will need the following information to apply:

  • Drivers license or state ID
  • Current residential and mailing address
  • Social security number
  • Last dates of employment
  • Number of days worked during the last employment period
  • Number of weeks earning $484 or more during last employment period

If you experience difficulties filing an application online, you can call the IDES support phone number at 800.244.5631 for assistance. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online, as wait times are upwards of 30 minutes given the high call volume at this time.

Once my application is approved, how long will it take to receive the benefit and how much will I receive?

It takes roughly two weeks to get the first payment, and normally the first payment is for one week’s worth of benefits. Your benefit is calculated on earnings that have been reported by your previous employer. The minimum benefit per week is $51 and the maximum per week is $484. You may qualify for an additional amount if you claim a qualifying dependent.