Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Last updated: February 2012

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When you leave a job, you should always apply for unemployment benefits, no matter which of these apply: you were laid off;you were fired; oryou voluntarily quit. It is important to apply right away after you leave your job, since benefits are paid from the date you turn in your application.Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.When should I apply for unemployment benefits? When you leave a job, you should always apply for unemployment benefits, no matter why you became unemployed. You should apply whether you were laid off, fired, or you voluntarily quit. It is important to apply right away after you leave your job, since benefits are paid from the date you turn in your application. Even if you think you might not get unemployment benefits (like if you did something wrong at work, or if you did not work for the employer very long), you should still apply. See "Apply for Unemployment Benefits Online" in the "Forms" section of this guide for an online application form. If I quit my job, can I still get unemployment benefits? If you voluntarily quit your job, you can only get unemployment benefits if you left for "good cause." "Good cause" means that you must have a very good reason why you quit. This reason must be serious enough to make a reasonable person in the same situation leave the job. The reason for leaving also must be a result of something done by your employer. Some Reasons for Quitting that Are Serious Enough to Still Get Unemployment Benefits Are:Sexual harassment on the jobChange in working conditions made the job unbearableAbusive behavior on the job by coworkers or supervisorsYour boss breaks a law which affects you (for example: not paying you minimum wage)A big cut in your hours, benefits, or pay ratesYour boss changes work shifts, causing child care or transportation problemsSome Reasons for Quitting that May NOT Be Serious Enough to Still Get Unemployment Benefits Are:Can't find day care (unless it's your boss's fault)Don't have transportation to workStress caused by the job, unless the employer made big changes to your work conditionsYou didn't get a raise or promotion that was promised to youYou are not getting along with a co-workerA small decrease in your hours, benefits, or pay rateBefore quitting, you must make reasonable attempts to resolve the problem with your employer. It is best to keep records of this by sending a letter to your boss that says the problem and asks that the boss find a solution. Your letter should be as specific as possible. It should have the date on it and explain the problem in detail.What if I left my job, but it was not the fault of the employer? Sometimes, the reason for leaving does not have to be the fault of the employer:Leaving for your own health problem (must show a doctor's note before you leave)Leaving to care for a sick spouse, child or parent (must show a doctor's note before you leave)Quitting to avoid bumping another employee under a union contractThese are all reasons that would still allow you to obtain unemployment benefits.If I am fired from my job, can I still get unemployment benefits? If you are fired, or discharged, from your job you should receive unemployment benefits unless it was because of "misconduct." In general, to be misconduct you must purposely break a fair rule of the employer's that harms the employer.For example, you can be denied unemployment benefits if you usually arrive late for work and are warned about it.But, if you unintentionally do something wrong at work or break a rule, you can still receive unemployment. There is no magical way to keep from being fired, or from having the employer claim that you committed misconduct. But, these actions may help you receive unemployment benefits if you are fired:Send a written response if you are disciplined, even if the response is an apology for a mistake;Do not refuse to discuss a problem with supervisors;If someone is lying or treating you badly, send a letter to your boss, or to your boss's supervisor, about the situation;Make sure you have a copy of all work rules. If the employer refuses to give you a copy, send a letter to your boss which says that the employer refused to provide you with the work rules;Try your hardest to follow the work rules- if you break a rule, give your boss an honest written explanation;Do not lose your cool or your perspective;After being discharged, take advantage of any opportunity to appeal through your union or company grievance policy, even if you think it is a waste of time.If you are fired, send your boss a short letter that explains why your firing was unfair. Do not mention other events not related to the firing.If you think the real reason for the discharge was something other than the reason given, state the real reason in your response.What can I do if I lose my unemployment benefits case? If the Illinois Department of Unemployment Security decides that you cannot get unemployment benefits, you can appeal the decision.See the "Related Articles" section of this guide for more information.Prepare and gather information After your job ends, gather together any information or paperwork about how and why it ended. You may need this information depending on the circumstances that led to your job ending. You may not need this information until you meet with someone from IDES, but it is a good idea to gather it together early in the process.Check the "Common Questions" section to see the kinds of information you might need. For example, if you were fired for disciplinary reasons, you might want to find any communications that you sent to your employer about the discipline. You may need to provide different things depending on how your job ended. You should also gather together information about the following:Employer addressesIncome tax informationInformation about Social Security, pension, and other benefits you receiveMore information about what you might need is available from IDES:Frequently Asked QuestionsApply for benefits with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) You may apply for unemployment benefits online at the IDES website:See "Apply for Unemployment Benefits Online" in the "Forms" section of the guide for this online application.You may also apply for benefits in person at your local IDES office. Receive information from IDES in the mail After you file your claim, you will receive information from IDES in the mail. If your request for benefits has been approved, you will receive a form titled "UI Claimant Wage Information Sheet." This form will describe your benefits, and list the day that you need to call IDES to certify your claim.You may receive a letter from IDES about an adjudication interview. This means that you must speak with someone from IDES to verify your eligibility for benefits. Most interviews are done over the phone. The letter will give you a date and time for the interview, and more information about who to contact.Certify your claim Before you begin receiving benefits, you will need to call in to the IDES "Tele-Serve" system and certify your claim. Certification is the way that you verify to IDES that you still need benefits. You will need to provide information to identify yourself and any wage information. You will also need to answer various questions that will determine whether you are still eligible for benefits.For more information on the certifications process, see IDES - I Filed My Claim - What Happens Now? If you are denied benefits, consider appealing the decision If the Illinois Department of Unemployment Security decides that you cannot get unemployment benefits, you can appeal the decision.For more information on appealing, see "How to Appeal an Unemployment Decision" in the Related Articles section of this guide. Keep looking for work while you receive benefits Generally, IDES requires that you keep actively looking for work while you are receiving benefits. For more information on this requirement, see IDES - I Filed My Claim - What Happens Now?

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