How To File For Illinois Unemployment

This page provides information on how to file for unemployment in Illinois. If you lost your job or your hours were reduced at no fault of your own, you may qualify to receive unemployment benefits in your state. Review the information below, if you still have questions or issues about these benefits, then we suggest to contact your local Illinois Unemployment Department for assistance. It is important that you file your new claim right away because Illinois unemployment insurance are not retroactive.

Illinois unemployment insurance qualifications

To qualify, you must have earned at least $1,600 during a recent 12-month period (known as the base period) and you must have earned at least $440 outside of the base period quarter in which your earnings were the highest. If you do not qualify under the standard base period, IDES may use the most recent four completed quarters as an alternate base period.

If your Benefit Year begins Your Base Period will be Your Alternate Base Period will be
This Year Between:
Jan. 1 and March 31
Last Year Between:
Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 and the year
before between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31
Last year between:
Jan. 1 and Dec. 31
This Year Between:
April 1 and June 30
Last Year Between:
Jan. 1 and Dec. 31
Last year between:
April 1 and Dec. 31 and this year
between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31
This Year Between:
July 1 and Sept. 30
Last Year Between:
April 1 and Dec. 31 and this year
between Jan. 1 and March 31
Last year between:
July 1 and Dec. 31 and this year
between Jan. 1 and June 30
This Year Between:
Oct. 1 and Dec. 31
Last Year Between:
July 1 and Dec. 31 and this year
between Jan. 1 and June 30
Last year between:
Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 and this year
between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30

If you have been awarded temporary total disability benefits under a workers compensation act or other similar acts, or if you only have worked within the last few months, your base period may be determined differently.

Your employer must be subject to the State's unemployment insurance law. Among the types of work not covered are certain agricultural, domestic, railroad and government work, and certain work done for one's family and on commission.

You must either be entirely out of work or be working less than full-time because full time work is not available. Your earnings must fall below a certain threshold determined at the time you file your claim. Your unemployment must be involuntary. You may be disqualified if you:

  • Quit your job voluntarily without good cause attributable to your employer
  • Were discharged for misconduct in connection with your work
  • Were discharged for a felony or theft in connection with your work or
  • Are out of work because of a labor dispute

You must be able and available to work. Benefits are not paid for any period in which you are on vacation, when your principle occupation is that of a student (you may be eligible if you are attending a training course approved by the IDES Director) or while you engage in any other activity that makes you unavailable for work. Benefits are not paid for any day or days on which you are unable to work because of illness, disability, family responsibilities, lack of transportation, etc.

You must be actively seeking work and willing to accept any suitable job offered. You must keep a log of your job search activities in every week for which you claim benefits. If your eligibility is challenged, you may be required to produce that document.

Illinois Employment Service Registration Requirement

You must complete registration with Illinois Employment Services at before unemployment insurance benefits can be paid. Once completing your registration at, you can create a resume and search for work.

Information Needed to File for Benefits

The following information is needed when you are applying for Illinois unemployment benefits:

  • Your Social Security Number and Name as it appears on your Social Security card
  • Your Driver License / State ID (this will provide your weight, which is required when filing)
  • If claiming your spouse or child as a dependent, the Social Security Number, date of birth and name(s) of dependent(s)
  • Name, mailing address, phone number, employment dates, and separation reason for all the employers you worked for in the last 18 months
  • If you worked since Sunday of this week, the gross wages earned this week. You must report all gross wages for any work performed, full or part-time. Gross means the total amount earned before deductions, not "take home pay", including wages in the form of lodging, meals, merchandise or any other form. Gross wages must be reported the week in which they are earned, not the week in which you receive the wages. If your gross wages earned in any week are less than your weekly benefit amount, you still may be eligible to receive a full or partial benefit payment)
  • Records of any pension payments you are receiving (not including Social Security)
  • If you are not a United States citizen, your Alien Registration Information
  • If you are a recently separated veteran, the Member 4 Copy of the DD form 214 / 215. Other copies of the DD Form 214 / 215 are acceptable, but the Member 4 copy is the most commonly available.
  • If you are separated from work as a civilian employee of the federal government, copies of your Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50

File unemployment claim

File your claim for unemployment insurance benefits during the first week after you have become unemployed. To file your claim online click here, or you may file in person at a local IDES office. If you have additional questions, please call IDES Claimant Services at 800-244-5631 or TTY: 866-488-4016.

How long can I receive benefits?

Assuming you are eligible, it is possible to receive as many as 26 weeks of benefits within your benefit year. The MBA (WBA x 26) is the total gross amount of money you will receive (not including dependent allowance).

Certify for Weekly Benefits

On your scheduled certification day, the best way to certify for benefits is the internet. You can certify for benefits online by going here​. These services are available Monday - Friday from 5am to 7:30pm. Certifications are done every two weeks on your assigned call day.

  • When do I get paid after I certify?
  • If your certification responses are approved, benefits are paid within 2-3 business days. (Federal & State holidays may delay payments by an additional 24 hours)
  • If any of your certification responses trigger a Notice of Possible Ineligibility, which you will receive by mail, benefit payment may be delayed until the issue is resolved

File an Appeal

  • Write a letter or complete the Request for Reconsideration of Claims Adjudicator's Determination​ form within 30 days outlining why you disagree with the finding or determination.
  • Mail, fax or deliver this to your local IDES office. The address and fax number appears on the Finding or Determination. If the reconsideration is denied, an appeal is automatically sent to the Appeals Division. You will receive a Notice of Hearing indicating the date and time of the hearing.
  • Any documents to be entered as exhibits must be faxed or mailed to the Administrative Law Judge and any other parties in time to ensure receipt of the documents before the date of the scheduled hearing. Refer to the Notice of Hearing for the fax number or mailing address of the Administrative Law Judge, as well as the names and addresses of the other parties involved. Unless provided to the local office prior to the issuance of the Notice of Hearing, exhibits not in the hands of both the Administrative Law Judge and the other parties prior to the hearing may not be considered.
  • A file may be inspected by submitting a completed Review File Request (APL115F)​ to the local office where the claim was filed or the Agency's main office at 33 S. State, Chicago IL. If the request is made at least 2 working days prior to the hearing, the Agency will provide the party making the request with an opportunity to inspect the file at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. For more information about preparing for an appeal hearing, please refer to the Department's Appeal Hearing Brochure.
  • After the hearing you will receive a Decision. If you miss the Hearing, you can request to reopen the hearing within 10 days.​