Unemployment insurance benefits can be a welcome relief for someone struggling to find a new job while still paying their bills. During this difficult time, it is helpful to have information on how to apply and keep your benefits. To apply for benefits while living in Illinois, you have to go through the Illinois Department of Employment Safety (IDES).

How to Qualify for Unemployment

In order to be entitled for unemployment benefits, you must have earned enough money in the past 18 months for Illinois to set up a weekly benefit amount for you. This means you have to made at least $1,600 or more during the base period. Also, you cannot be at fault for losing your job, regardless of whether you quit your job or were fired from your job. You can work in nearly any line of employment and be eligible for unemployment.

You can also claim a child or a spouse as a dependent, but not both. If you do have a dependent, then you may be eligible for a separate dependent allowance outside of the amount you get for unemployment. However, if your child is over 18 or if your spouse is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in their own right, then you are not eligible for the dependent allowance.

How to Apply for Unemployment

You can apply online or at an IDES office. When you apply, make sure you have your social security card and driver license or state ID. However, if you are not a citizen and do not have a social security card, then you will need your Alien Registration information. If you are claiming a dependent, then you will need their name, social security number, and date of birth. You also need a list of everyone you worked for the past 18 months with their name, address, and phone number. Depending on your payment situation as an employee, you might need either your W-2 or paystubs, as well and the total amount you made the last week of work. You will need to also provide information about your pension if you are currently receiving one. If you left the military, then you need your Member 4 Copy of the DD form 214 / 215. If you worked for the federal government, you need copies of your Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50.

If you begin receiving unemployment benefits, voluntarily stop it, and then need to restart it, you can reopen your claim by calling the Tele-Serve line at (312) 338-4337.

How Long Does Unemployment Last?

There is a one-week period known as a “waiting week,” where you are not given benefits for that week even though you have been determined to be eligible for it. Once that waiting week is over, unemployment lasts for 26 weeks.

While you are unemployed, you have to certify your claim every 2 weeks. If you earned any money during those two weeks, you have to report it. You have to actively look for work, and, if you are in school or training, you have to list the dates that you are in school or training. You will also need to be registered on the Illinois Job Link, which is a database where you can look for a job.

What Can I Do If I Run Out of Unemployment?

If you are still unemployed after 26 weeks, then you can request extended benefits. However, there are additional requirements that you will need to meet. Also, extended benefits may not be available at the time that your unemployment insurance runs out.

You can also receive other forms of assistance from IDES in your search for employment, Along with assisting you in posting your resume online, Job Corps, which is a division of IDES, also provides training for new careers.

What Do I Need to Know About Illinois If My Claim Is Denied?

You have 30 days to appeal your claim if your claim is denied. The appeal will be heard by an administrative law judge. You can show evidence and bring witnesses to the appeal hearing. You can even bring a lawyer with you to the hearing. If the administrative judge also denies your request for unemployment benefits, you can appeal to the Board of Review within 30 days. Finally, if that does not work, you can file in court.

Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?

If you are considering applying for unemployment benefits in Illinois, you should consult with an Illinois employment lawyer about your application. They can help you immensely if you are appealing a decision that denied you unemployment.