How To Apply For Unemployment In Illinois

The unemployment insurance program in the state of Illinois is administered by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). It is a state-sponsored, employer-paid program put in place to replace at least some of any lost income incurred after a layoff. Unemployment insurance benefits claims can be filed online, in person, or by phone:

Voluntary quits and workers fired for performance or behavioral reasons are generally not eligible for UI benefits. You must have a valid social security number, proof of eligible employment, and the physical ability and willingness to work if new employment is offered.

Required Steps to File an Unemployment Insurance Claim

One of the requirements to continue receiving weekly unemployment insurance benefits payments is to register with Illinois JobLink and produce proof of your job searches when you file for renewal each week. The Illinois Department of Employment Security guidelines clearly state that you must be “willing to work” and “actively searching” for new work.

You will be asked to accurately report your wages going back fifteen months (five quarters), so make sure you have this information on hand before filing your claim. It’s also helpful to have the FEIN (federal employment identification number) for your most recent employer. This number can be found on your W2 or 1099 form if you were employed there last year.

Applicants will also be asked to provide proof of the reason for separation from their employer. IDES guidelines are that the separation must be a “no fault” departure on the employee’s behalf. Voluntary quits and firings are only eligible if a justifiable reason can be determined for them. For additional information on these “special circumstances,” call (800) 244-5631.

Illinois UI Claims Filing Schedule

Your filing schedule is determined by your last name. Pay close attention to available dates and times that apply to you. Claims filed off-schedule or after designated business hours may not be processed. The schedules for online and phone-initiated UI claims is below:

  • Online Claims (Letters A – M): Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
  • Online Claims (Letters N – Z): Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
  • Phone Claims (Letters A – M): Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Phone Claims (Letters N – Z): Mondays and Wednesdays: 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM

If you miss your designated day, you can file online Saturday (regardless of last name) or by phone on Fridays between 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM. Online claims and weekly filings are unavailable between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM each evening for processing purposes.

Avoid Fraud and Third-Party Agents

Unemployment fraud results in fines or imprisonment, so be careful when you enter any information into the IDES database. Double-check all wage amounts and don’t enter anything that can’t be verified. It’s also strongly recommended that you avoid using third-party agents to file for unemployment for you. The information requested for an unemployment insurance benefits claim is highly personal and should not be shared with any third-party entity or person.

Illinois Unemployment Insurance Program

  •  You may file in person. Click on this link for the nearest office: Coronavirus update: Illinois is providing updates on Unemployment Insurance changes related to COVID-19 here: Visit Website
  •  To file a claim by telephone number: Visit Website
  •  To file a UI claim online: Visit Website
  •  General Information about the Unemployment Insurance Program: Visit Website

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