1. Prepare and gather information
Regardless of the circumstances, after your job ends, gather any and all information or paperwork you have related to the entire time you worked for your employer. Regardless of why you became unemployed, you may need to use or provide this information to be considered for unemployment benefits.
You should find and organize these documents as soon as possible so that you can try to obtain any additional documents you may need.
Don't assume that your employer is not going to contest your unemployment.
Some examples of information you should find and organize are:
- Employer addresses
- Income tax information
- Information about Social Security, pension, and other benefits you received
For more information on what you might need to see Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) Frequently Asked Questions.
2. Fill out and submit the application
Use the IDES's online application. You will have to create a username and password.
You may also apply for benefits in person at your local IDES office. Typically, you can go to the office that is closest to you. Sometimes there is a long, and many people have complained that these local offices are not helpful or considerate.
3. Wait for IDES's response
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 will list the day that you need to call IDES to certify your benefits. If you do not receive your letter within 3-4 weeks, you should call IDES and find out if a determination has been made regarding your eligibility so that you do not miss your opportunity to appeal if you have been denied benefits.
You may receive a letter from IDES about an adjudication interview. This means that you must speak or meet with someone from IDES to verify that you are eligible for benefits. Most interviews are done over the phone. The letter will give you a date and time for the meeting, and more information about who to contact.
Make sure you do not miss this interview because it will likely result in you being denied benefits and you will then have to appeal. Filing an appeal makes the process harder. If you cannot make the scheduled date, contact the IDES immediately.
4. Certify your claim
Before you begin receiving benefits, you will need to call the IDES "Tele-Serve" system and certify your claim. Certification is how you verify that you are still entitled to benefits.
You will need to provide information to identify yourself and provide any wage information about money you received. You will also need to answer various questions that will determine whether you are still eligible for benefits, including whether you have actively been looking for work. You are required to seek employment to be entitled to continue to receive benefits. You should keep a log of the jobs you have applied for and the status of any employment applications.
For more information on the certifications process, go to IDES'sI Filed My Claim - What Happens Now?
5. If you are denied benefits, consider appealing the decision
If IDES determines that you are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits you can, and in most cases should appeal this decision.
The letter you receive from IDES explains the appeal process. It is strongly suggested that you consult with an attorney that has experience with unemployment appeals to discuss your situation, as there is a lot of money at stake if you are found ineligible to receive benefits. For more information on appealing, see Appealing an unemployment benefits decision.
6. Keep looking for work while you receive unemployment benefits
IDES requires that you keep looking for work while you receive unemployment benefits. You should keep a log of the jobs you have applied for and the status of any employment applications.
For more information, go to IDES's I Filed My Claim - What Happens Now?
Updated: January 2017