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9 Questions About Unemployment Insurance & Our Expert Answers

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If you have been recently laid-off or are unable to work due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, you could be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. There are a lot of mixed messages being shared about who can apply, how to apply since physical offices are closed, and how to receive these supports. Our team at Skills has pulled together a few frequently asked questions to hopefully answer your questions and provide ways to access resources as you focus on getting back to work.

To review the full list of FAQ or to apply for Unemployment Insurance, please visit https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx


What is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?

In general, UI provides temporary income maintenance to individuals who have been separated from employment through no fault of their own and who meet all eligibility requirements; including the requirements that they be able and available for work, register with the state employment service and actively seek work. Click here for more information.


Can I still go to an IDES office to apply for UI?

All local and regional IDES offices are currently closed to the public until such time as the Governor lifts the stay at home directive. However, each IDES office is staffed with essential personnel ready to work with you by phone. Click here for IDES locations.  In addition, the IDES Claims Service Center is fully staffed and has extended operating hours. The telephone number is 800-244-5631.


Am I eligible for UI if I’m temporarily laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?

An individual temporarily laid off in this situation could qualify for benefits if he or she was able and available for and actively seeking work. Under emergency rules IDES recently adopted, the individual would not have to register with the employment service. He or she would be actively seeking work as long as the individual was prepared to return to his or her job as soon as the employer reopened.


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

An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting. If you are still unsure if you qualify, call to the IDES Claims Service Center at 800-244-5631 and inquire further about your unique situation.


What information do I need to file my claim?

It is important to have the following information before you begin the filing process. The application will time out after an hour of nonuse:

  • 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 date, 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 dependents name, social security number and date of birth


How can I file a claim?

While claims can be filed over the telephone,  it is recommended  that you file online due to the high volume of calls

Please go to the IDES  website, click on “Individuals” at the top left of the screen, click on “Unemployment Insurance,” scroll down to “File For Unemployment Insurance,” and follow the prompts.

If you need to file by telephone, there is a schedule below

​ Alphabetized Schedule by Last Name ​

  • A-M:  T/Th/Sun​
  • N-Z : M/W/F​
  • A-Z:  Saturdays


What happens after I file my claim?

After your claim is filed, IDES will send you a Finding, which will let you know if you are eligible for benefits. If you are, the Finding will include information such as:

  • Your weekly benefit amount, which is the amount you are eligible to receive each week
  • Your Dependent Allowance, if applicable
  • Your first certification date and;
  • Other information pertinent to your claim, including your Maximum Benefit Allowance, the total amount you are eligible to receive during your benefit year (26 times your WBA)


What is the difference between filing a claim and certifying?

Filing a claim is the application process you undertake to determine whether you qualify for unemployment benefits. Certifying is a process that first occurs two weeks after you have filed your claim. Every two weeks you need to certify that you are able and available to work, and are actively seeking work. The Finding and subsequent information you receive will advise you on how to complete this process.


Can I work and receive benefits?

Yes, if your earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may be eligible for all or partial benefits. For example, earning less than half of your WBA will not affect the amount you receive.

However, if you earn more than half of your WBA, anything over half of your WBA will be deducted from your benefits.

For all other questions, please refer to this IDES FAQ page for claimants:IDES FAQ


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