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How to apply for Unemployment benefits in Illinois

June 1, 2020

Dear friends,

If you have lost work, you can apply for Unemployment benefits in Illinois. If your job loss is due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive additional unemployment benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

If you need to apply for Unemployment benefits, and/or if you’ve tried to applied but have had problems with the online portal, please read through this entire message to find information about how to apply online, or by phone, and when to apply – there is a filing schedule based on the first letter of your last name. To see the filing schedule, please see the bottom of this message.

Rental Assistance and Unemployment
Many of the rental assistance programs available right now require proof to show that you have filed for Unemployment benefits. Whether or not you receive those benefits, having proof that you have filed for Unemployment can help you apply for rental assistance. For Rental Assistance programs in Champaign County, please visit here.

Applying for Illinois Unemployment
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has set up a process to help individuals gain unemployment benefits, should they experience loss of employment due to the pandemic.

If you visit the home page of IDES you will find several links. However, if you scroll down to the News and Announcements section, you can see updates from IDES. The IDES shared an announcement on May 6, 2020, that can help you understand how to apply for unemployment. Here is the link for the information.

Here are the main points from the May 6 announcement:
    – 1099 Workers who have lost work due to COVID-19 may be eligible for new federal benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

FIRST: You must apply for regular unemployment insurance before applying for benefits under PUA (this can be done via the IDES website);

SECOND: if you receive an eligibility determination of $0 you can either: appeal that decision by providing verification of wages earned, OR, submit a claim for PUA benefits. Receiving denial for regular unemployment benefits is a mandatory first step in determining eligibility for PUA.

– PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19 reasons and are not eligible for other regular state unemployment and benefit programs.

– PUA claims will be backdated to the individual’s first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2, 2020. It will continue for as long as you remain unemployed because of COVID-19, but no later than the week ending December 26, 2020

Filing a Regular Unemployment Claim:
IDES suggests watching this 9 minute video first before applying for unemployment as it can provide useful information for the individual: IDES Claimant Video

From the main page of IDES, click the link File an Unemployment Claim (Regular or PUA)
Click File for Regular Unemployment Benefits
– Read through the 10 things you should know before filing a claim, then check the box to certify that you have read the information.
– You will be taken to a login page where you can log in or register.

– “What information do I need to file my claim?”
    • Your social security number
    • Your drivers’ license or state ID
    • Your employment history from the past 18 months, including 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 dependent’s name, social security number, and date of birth.
– Within 7-10 days of filing, you will receive a blank debit card and a UI finding in the mail. The UI finding will tell you if you are eligible for benefits

– More information about the Next Steps

Schedule for filing a claim, based on the first letter of your last name:
Online Filing Schedule (any time of day, except 8pm-10pm for processing):

●    Those with last names beginning with letters A-M: Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays
●    Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z: Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays
●    Saturdays are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window

Call Center Filing Schedule
●    Last names beginning with letters A-M: Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm
●    Last names beginning with letters N-Z: Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6 pm
●    Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window
Contact: Claimant Services call center 800-244-5631*
Note* Claims can be filed over the phone, however, IDES ask that individuals file online due to the high volume of calls they are currently receiving.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding eligibility, filing, and certifying can be found here.

How to File a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Claim:
If you are denied regular unemployment benefits, you may still be eligible for The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Their website offers a guide that can help you gain benefits faster – especially if you are self-employed, partially self-employed, an independent contractor, or a worker whose wages and hours are not reported to the IDES.

To file a PUA claim: click here

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Champaign County Health Care Consumers