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FAQs for Claimants

Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance

What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?

An individual who leaves work voluntarily generally cannot receive UI. Your eligibility in this situation will depend on whether you can demonstrate you had a good reason for quitting, and that the reason was because of your employer. You generally must make a reasonable effort to work with your employer to resolve whatever issues made you consider quitting.

What if I can’t leave my home because I must care for my child during the pandemic or because I have COVID-19?

An individual in any of those situations would be unemployed through no fault of their own and might be eligible for UI benefits. However, to qualify for UI, they would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements. For example, the individual must be able and available for work, and show that they are seeking work from home. Individuals can be considered able and available to work if there is some work that they could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services).
This individual also must prove that they left their job due to their employer. However, there is an exception to the requirement that the reason for leaving is due to the employer. That exception is when an individual quits a job because a licensed and practicing physician deems them unable to perform the work; or when their employer is unable to accommodate the individual’s need to care for a family member who has been verified to be in poor health or to have a disability.

What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed, and I have to stay home with the child?

If an individual quits a job due to day care, that individual is generally considered to have quit the job for a reason that is not due to the employer, and will therefore not be eligible for UI benefits.

What if I have reduced wages (part-time work)? Can I work and receive benefits?

Yes, if your earnings for a particular week are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may be eligible for all or partial benefits for that week. (For this situation, the WBA does not include any dependent allowance.)

Learn more about partial benefits and working part-time.

Am I eligible for unemployment if I am currently receiving income using my vacation days, sick days, or receiving FMLA payments?

Money received from your employer for using your vacation days (under some circumstances), sick days, and FMLA payments, are normally considered wages. This income will impact the amount of benefits you will be eligible for.

What determines if I'm able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work?

To be considered able to work, an individual must be mentally and physically capable of performing a job in an occupation where jobs exist.

To be considered available for work, an individual cannot impose conditions on the acceptance of work if those conditions essentially leave them with no reasonable prospect of work.

To be considered actively seeking work, an individual must reasonably try to return to work. An individual cannot refuse a suitable job offer or they could lose eligibility for benefits.

How do I look for work?

The job search tool makes it easy to look for your next job on If your work search history is requested by IDES, you can use your history to prove your work search activities. 

Am I required to use

Normally, yes. Individuals are required to register with (IJL) to be eligible for unemployment benefits. You will need to register and upload a resume to unless IDES informs you that you fit into one of the narrow exceptions.

I am receiving wages from an employer, and I also have a side business where I am an independent contractor. I lost all of my independent contractor work, but I am still receiving some wages from my employer. Am I eligible for benefits?

The fact that you lost either your side business or a part time job does not make you “unemployed” if you are still working full time or are earning more than your weekly benefit amount (WBA). If you are not employed full time but are still receiving some wages from your employer, you may be eligible to receive benefits if the wages earned from your employer are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA). Since you have no work as an independent contractor, then you have no earnings outside of your wages with your employer to reduce the benefits that you may be eligible for.

What income do I have to report when I certify every two weeks for benefits?

You must report the amount of all income before taxes or any other deductions are taken out. This is called your gross income. For each of the two weeks you are certifying, you must report the gross income that you earned, even if you will not actually receive the money until later.

I am an undocumented individual. Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits?

In general, individuals who are not lawfully permitted to work in the United States are not able and available to work. In addition, wages earned by an individual who is not lawfully permitted to work cannot be used in establishing a weekly benefit amount. Therefore, that individual would not eligible for unemployment benefits.

I have a green card and was recently laid-off due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for benefits?

Individuals with green cards issued by the federal government are generally able and available to work. Therefore, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet all the requirements.

I receive a 1099 for the job(s) I do as an independent contractor. Am I eligible for regular UI?

You may be eligible for regular unemployment insurance, as a “1099 employee” is not synonymous with “independent contractor” as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Act.
In Illinois, every individual who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits, even if they have been told they're not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program - because they’re an independent contractor, part of the “gig economy,” or for some other reason. It is possible that whoever told them they were not covered was wrong. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for regular UI benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under Illinois law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.

I am an independent contractor, but I am only partially unemployed (i.e., my revenue has taken a significant loss, but I am not completely out of work). Can I receive unemployment benefits?

This depends. IDES must determine if your work as an independent contractor is covered under Illinois law, the amount of wages from covered employment you received in the past, and what you are earning currently. You will receive a weekly benefit amount based on your past covered wages. If your current weekly income does not exceed your weekly benefit amount, not including dependent allowance, you may be eligible for benefits for that week. If your income exceeds your weekly benefit amount, then you would not be eligible for benefits for that week.

Certain non-academic school employees were made potentially eligible for unemployment insurance in Summer 2020 and 2021. Was this potential eligibility extended for Summer 2022?

No, the General Assembly did not extend potential eligibility for these workers in 2022.

Filing a Claim for Unemployment Insurance

How can I file a claim?

The fastest way to file a claim is online. Claims can also be filed over the phone, by calling (800) 244-5631 and following the appropriate prompts.

When can I file a claim?

Claims can be filed online every day of the week at any time, except from 8pm-10pm.

Are local and regional IDES offices open?

Limited in-person services are available at local IDES workforce offices by appointment only.

Will my benefits be affected if I cannot file immediately?

Generally, the day you file your claim will not impact your benefits as long as you file within the week after losing work. If you were unable to file your claim during that week because of capacity or system limitations, you should call (800) 244-5631 to discuss your claim. You should not delay filing because you think that you will be recalled immediately or because you think that you are going to find another job quickly. These are not valid excuses for not filing on time.

What information do I need to file my claim?

It is important to have the following information before you begin the filing process:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your Driver’s License or State ID
  • Your employment history from the past 18 months, including the name of employers, start dates, last day of work, and number of days worked
  • If you are claiming a dependent child or a dependent spouse, you will need to provide your dependent’s name, social security number and date of birth

What happens after I file my claim?

Please see this infographic for information about what you can expect after filing. After your claim is filed, IDES will send you a UI Finding letter, which will let you know if you are monetarily eligible for benefits. The UI Finding will include information such as:

  • Your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA), which is the amount you are eligible to receive each week, if you are otherwise eligible
  • Your Dependent Allowance, if applicable
  • Your first certification date

The fact that you are monetarily eligible for benefits does not guarantee that you will receive benefits. For more information about your UI Finding letter, click here.

Certification and Receiving Benefits

What is the difference between filing a claim and certifying?

Filing a claim is your initial application for unemployment insurance benefits. This application determines whether you earned enough money to qualify for unemployment benefits and, if so, how much you are eligible for each week.

Certifying is a process that occurs every two weeks after you file your claim. Every two weeks you need to certify that you are unemployed, able and available to work, and actively seeking work. You also need to report any income you have earned. If eligible, you will generally receive your benefit payment 2 to 3 business days after certifying.

How do I certify?

On your certification day, you must log into your account and answer a list of questions. This will determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the last two weeks.

Certification can be completed online or by calling 312-338-4337. The best way to complete your certification is online from 3:00am - 7:30pm on your designated certification day.

You will be assigned a certification day: either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. If you miss your regular certification day, you can certify on Thursday or Friday. Or, you can certify the week after. Instructions will be sent to you after you apply for benefits, with the details for how you should certify.

Example: If your certification date is 08/23/2021, you will be asked questions about 08/08/2021 through 08/14/2021 and 08/15/2021 through 08/21/2021. The weeks run from Sunday through Saturday.

When will I start receiving my benefits?

If you are eligible to receive benefits, you will generally receive a payment within two to three business days after certifying if you are enrolled in direct deposit, or up to eight days via paper check.

Will I receive an additional benefit if I have children or a spouse who does not work?

You may receive a dependent allowance in addition to your weekly benefit amount if you have either:

1. A dependent child under 18 years old or who is over 18 and physically unable to work, or;

2. A spouse who does not work.

You cannot claim both your spouse and your child as a dependent. More than one child will not increase your benefits. You cannot claim your spouse if your spouse earns enough to qualify for their own claim, even if your spouse is not eligible for unemployment. Dependents for unemployment purposes are not the same as dependents for income tax purposes. 

Are my benefits taxable?

Unemployment insurance benefits are subject to state and federal income taxes. You can elect to have deductions taken out at the time you file your claim or after. Deductions are 10% for federal income taxes and 4.95% for state income taxes. You cannot change deductions on a payment you have already been paid.

If I am receiving workers’ compensation payments, will this affect my unemployment benefits?

Yes. 100% of your temporary total workers' compensation will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount. Permanent disability payments are not disqualifying, but an individual who is unable to work at all due to a disability is completely ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

I receive a pension. Will this affect my unemployment benefits?

If the pension was paid by an employer you worked for within 18 months of the start of your claim, or by the most recent employer where you worked for 30 days or more prior to your claim, those pension payments are considered disqualifying income. If you paid into the pension, 50% of the amount you receive may be deducted from your weekly benefit amount (WBA). If your employer paid the full amount and you made no contributions, 100% of the amount you receive will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount (WBA). If you received a lump sum amount and did not have the option to receive monthly payments, a deduction will be made only for the week in which you received the payment. If it has been more than 18 months since you worked for the employer, the pension you are paid is probably not disqualifying income, in which case it will not be deducted from your benefits.

I received a debit card in the mail but it did not have any funds on it. Why not?

The debit card is mailed soon after you apply for benefits. Unless you requested direct deposit, the funds are placed on the debit card two to three days after you successfully certify.

Can I view my payment history online?

Yes. Sign into your online account and hover over the "Individual Home" menu. Then click “View my Payment History”.

Where can I find information on overpayments?

The IDES website has up-to-date information on overpayments and overpayment waivers

Expiring Federal Programs

What programs have expired?

PUA, FPUC, PEUC, and MEUC expired on September 4th, 2021. Extended Benefits expired on September 11th, 2021. For more information, visit the expired programs page.

What should a claimant on an expired program do when awaiting a pending adjudication, an appeal, or a Board of Review decision?

Even though federal programs have expired, IDES will still process your claim and send you a written decision. If you are found eligible, you will receive benefits retroactively.

If an individual applied for a waiver of PUA Overpayment and that application was approved but they have yet to receive a refund, what effect does the termination of PUA have on their refund?

Nothing. If your waiver was approved, you will receive your refund as soon as the necessary programming is completed

This spring, I received a letter from IDES indicating I had transitioned to a new benefit year. I have been unemployed since April 2020. Since federal programs have ended, how does this effect my federal benefit(s) payments?

If you had not worked and earned at least three times your weekly benefit amount since the beginning of your first benefit year (when you first filed for unemployment benefits), your benefits were transitioned to a federal extension. All federal programs ended on September 4, 2021, so that was the last week of benefits payable to you. You might have also automatically been eligible for one week of extended benefits.

If an individual just recently started receiving regular state unemployment and they are still in their first 26 weeks of benefits, are they no longer entitled to any of the extensions provided in any of the federal packages after September 4, 2021?


Is the state still triggered onto the additional 7 weeks of benefits during “high times of unemployment?”

No. Please see this press release for additional information.

If an individual did not use the additional “high times of unemployment” weeks last year are they eligible this year?


Is the state still triggered onto the 13 weeks of “extended benefits?”

No, Extended Benefits ended on September 11, 2021.

If an individual's claim is in adjudication or they are waiting to receive back pay due to no fault of their own, are they still eligible for the additional $300 and the additional weeks of benefits after the September deadline?

They can be paid retroactively for any weeks that they certified for that ended prior to September 5, 2021. The additional $300 will be paid for these weeks.

My account balance says I still have PUA benefits remaining. Can I get these benefits?

The federal CARES Act programs, including PUA, have ended.  Even if your account states that you have additional weeks of PUA remaining, under federal law no PUA benefits can be paid for any week that begins after September 4, 2021. 

Will individuals who are repaying an overpayment or applying for an overpayment waiver still have access to their online PUA accounts?

Yes, you can still access your PUA account.

If you have additional questions about the expired federal programs (PUA, PEUC, FPUC, MEUC), please visit the expired programs archive