The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Filing for Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Illinois

Downsizing happens to the best of us. After the shock of losing your job wears off, your first thought is probably, "How am I going to support my family?"

Fortunately, Illinois makes the application process for unemployment benefits relatively painless, unless your application is denied. (If you are denied, you have to fight your way though the appeals process, which is far more painful than the original application.)

What Information Will I Need?

To file an application, you'll need your Social Security Number, as well as those of your spouse and dependents. If you are not a United States citizen, you'll need to provide your Alien Registration Information.

You'll also need information from any employers for the last 18 months, including employer's name, mailing address, phone numbers, employment dates, and separation reason. Information on your gross wages for any work performed, full or part time has to be submitted as well. Your gross wages are the amount that you are paid before any taxes or deductions.

If you are a recently separated veteran, bring in the Member 4 Copy of DD form 214 / 215.

If you decide to apply in person, instead of online, you'll need to bring two forms of identification with you to the office.

Am I Eligible?

Almost everyone who has their employment terminated for a reason that is not their fault is eligible. Other requirements are that you must have worked for an employer that paid into the state unemployment fund (most do, as they are required to by law) and you must be available for, and actively seeking, new work.

How Do I File the Actual Application?

The process is relatively simple. You can apply online here, or you can apply in person at your local Illinois Department of Employment Security Office.

What Happens if I am Denied?

The appeals process begins! You first have to fill out this form, which is a request for reconsideration, within thirty days of the date that your denial was mailed to you.

If the reconsideration is denied, you'll automatically be scheduled for a telephone hearing. The hearing will make or break your case, so you'll want to prepare thoroughly and consider consulting a lawyer. Legal representation is not required, but it is allowed. Check with the IDES office to see if you are eligible for a free attorney.

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