Illinois Unemployment Guide

If you've recently lost your job in Illinois, you may be eligible for Illinois Unemployment Insurance benefits. This is a guide to filing your claim for Illinois unemployment benefits. Since each situation may have its own unique circumstances, make sure you check with the contact numbers and websites listed below to make sure you get the maximum benefits you can claim.

Filing for Unemployment:

Unemployed Illinois workers can file an initial claim for unemployment benefits online.

File your claim right away after you've stopped working – don't delay. Your claim starts the week you file. Unemployment benefits are not retroactive, so if you delay you may lose benefits.

When you file your initial unemployment benefit application, you will need the following information:

  • Name & address
  • SSN
  • Name, SSN and date of birth of spouse and all children claimed as dependents
  • Name, address, phone number, dates worked, and reason for separation for all employers over the past 2 years
  • If you were discharged from the military in the last 2 years, you'll need Copy #4 of your DD Form 214
  • If you were a Federal employee in the last 2 years, you'll need SF 8 or SF 50 (or W2 or pay stubs)
  • If you are not a US Citizen, you'll need your Alien Registration Number, expiration, and type
  • Gross wages you've earned, if any, since Sunday of your filing week

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Filing Your Weekly Claim:

Weekly benefits are based on your highest quarterly wages of the base period (first 4 of the last 5 quarters), minimum $51 per week to a maximum $534 per week.

File your ongoing unemployment claims bi-weekly by one of the following methods:

  1. OnlineFile for Benefits Online – bi-weekly
  2. Telephone - Call IDES Tele-Serve (888) 337-7234 5:00am to 7:30 PM (M – F) – bi-weekly

You are given a specific day of the week to file. If you miss your filing day, you can still fine on Thursday or Friday. Certification is not available on weekends.

After bi-weekly filing you will be mailed a Statement of Certification, stating your next certification date, confirmation number, and other information you may need for your next filing.

Beware of the Waiting Week. Your first week of benefits is called a "waiting week" – this means you will not be paid benefits during your first week of eligibility, but you must still file a claim to get credit for waiting.

Payments will be made 2 to 3 days after bi-weekly filing, via direct deposit or debit card.

Unemployment Benefits:

Health Insurance benefits may be available to you through the Health Coverage Tax Credit - Check out The IRS for details.

Career services are available online, and training resources may be available depending on your specific circumstances.

Filing for extensions:

As your regular unemployment benefits come close to being completed, you will automatically be enrolled in extended benefits programs and your benefits will be extended by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Ending Unemployment:

When you return to work, file for credit for the remaining few days you didn't work. Then, just stop filing - when you stop bi-weekly filing, your unemployment benefits automatically end.


Make sure to keep records of your search for work. You may be required to supply copies to the Illinois Department of Employment Security for review.

If you receive a notification to meet with the Illinois Department of Employment Security in person, make sure you bring state issued identification (Driver's License or State ID card).

For more information, see the IDES FAQ, and download the Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook.

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