Unemployment insurance eligibility in the state of Illinois is governed by specific rules. Both initial eligibility for unemployment and maintaining eligibility after you have been accepted into the IL program are determined by these regulations.
The rules involve how you were separated from your employer, your ability to work, your availability to work, your continued search for employment, and your willingness to accept a job for which you are reasonably qualified. Who qualifies for unemployment and what are the requirements when applying for unemployment in Illinois are answered in the following sections.
We have compiled helpful information, hints, and tips about qualifying for unemployment benefits in Illinois on this website and FAQs and our free guide. Read more below to learn about who can qualify for unemployment in Illinois.
How to Qualify for Unemployment in Illinois
Qualifications for unemployment in Illinois is first defined by how the applicant became separated from his or her job. A claimant may well be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) if they are temporarily or permanently out of a job through no fault of their own, or if they work less than full-time due to lack of work.
Being discharged from your job for misconduct or quitting your job without good cause does not meet this qualification. Conditions comprising good cause for self-resignation can include unhealthy work setting, sexual harassment, domestic violence, or the need to accompany a military spouse or a spouse who is relocating due to employment.
To be eligible for EDD unemployment, the former employee must also have served one “waiting week”. The waiting week is a qualifying period required by law. Benefits are not paid during this week. It is usually the first week you file your claim.
Requirements for Retaining Unemployment benefits in Illinois
What are the requirements to get unemployment? Eligibility for unemployment requires that the UI beneficiary be able, available, and willing to work, as well as actively looking for work in IL and reporting to required interviews.
Individuals will not be eligible for unemployment benefits if they: are sick and cannot work on any day, are away on vacation, must stay at home to care for family, are retired and unwilling to accept a suitable job, got fired from their last job, moved to and stayed in a community where their chances of finding a job are much lower than the community they left, insist on wages, hours, or work conditions that unreasonably limit the chances of getting a job, or their main occupation is that of a student.
However, petitioners may be eligible for unemployment in IL if they are attending an approved training course to help them get a job under specified circumstances. If this is the case, they should inform a representative at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) or a workNet Center.
To qualify for unemployment insurance eligibility, petitioners must be actively looking for a job on their own initiative. They are also required to register with the Illinois Employment Service system at an IDES office or online where their work skills and preferences will be matched to available job openings.
Staff members are available at the IDES offices to provide job search assistance. Also, UI petitioners may be asked to regularly inform IDES about:
- What are they doing to find work.
- What kind of work they are seeking.
- What their prospects are for being hired.
UI petitioners must keep a record of when and where they applied for work. If petitioners search for jobs online, then they can use the Work Search Record form available online.
IL Wage and Employment Qualifications for Unemployment
For unemployment insurance eligibility, the UI applicant must have been paid at least $440 of wages at any time during the base period, not including the calendar quarter during which his or her wages were highest.
Additionally, the applicant must have been paid $1,600 or more in wages during the “base period” for “insured work”. The base period is further described on the Benefits page. Wages paid for uninsured work may be used as a basis for claiming benefits. Some examples of uninsured work are:
- Agricultural workers working for an employer who paid less than $20,000 in cash wages to employees during any calendar quarter
- Workers employed less than 10 individuals in 20 calendar weeks within the current or preceding calendar year
- Domestic workers who worked for an employer that paid less than $1,000 in cash wages in any calendar quarter within the current or preceding calendar year
- Railroad work covered by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
- Certain family employment such as a person working for a spouse
- A parent working for a son or daughter
- A son or daughter under 18 working for a parent
- Work as an insurance agent or solicitor paid solely on a commission basis
- Certain government jobs like elected officials
- Those hired to work for a short period following a disaster
- Participants in a federal, state or locally funded work-relief and/or work training program
- Direct sellers of consumer products on a buy-sell basis, by direct commission or any similar basis in a home or in an establishment other than a permanent retail establishment
Illinois Referral to Re-employment Services
To be granted eligibility for EDD, a UI beneficiary may be referred to receive more intensive re-employment services. These services can include a personal interview of one’s needs and recommended activities to enhance the job search, such as resume writing, interviewing tips, and referral to available training or local job clubs.
If the UI petitioner is referred to re-employment services and refuses to participate without good reason, he or she can be denied benefits until he or she agrees to participate.
Last Updated: February 28, 2023