How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

The IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) FAQ page for Covid-19 related unemployment questions is the best source of information for individuals who find themselves unemployed because of the Covid-19 emergency.

ILAO (Illinois Legal Aid Online) also has very good, up-to-date information for unemployed Illinois residents.

All physical unemployment offices are closed until further notice.

Apply online at the IDES website or call (800) 244-5631. You cannot apply in person. IDES offices are closed due to coronavirus.

Because there are so many people applying for unemployment benefits, they are requesting that applicants apply online or call during designated times, based on your last name:

Online application schedule

The online application is closed from 8pm-10pm every night for processing.
Otherwise, it is open.

Last name begins with A-M Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays
Last name begins with N-Z Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Anyone who can’t apply on their designated day Saturdays
Call center schedule

The call center is open at (800) 244-5631 from 7:30am-6pm every weekday.

Last name begins with A-M Tuesdays and Thursdays
Last name begins with N-Z Mondays and Wednesdays
Anyone who can’t call on their designated day Fridays


Information Needed to File for Benefits: 

  • Your Social Security Number and Name as it appears on your Social Security card;
  • Your Driver License / State ID (this will provide your weight, which is required when filing);
  • If claiming your spouse or child as a dependent, the Social Security Number, date of birth and name(s) of dependent(s);
  • Name, mailing address, phone number, employment dates, and separation reason for all the employers you worked for in the last 18 months;

° Wage records (W-2 form, check stubs, etc.) from these employers may be necessary.

  • If you worked since Sunday of this week, the gross wages earned this week;

° You must report all gross wages for any work performed, full or part-time;

° Gross means the total amount earned before deductions, not “take home pay”, including wages in the form of lodging, meals, merchandise or any other form;

° Gross wages must be reported the week in which they are earned, not the week in which you receive the wages;

° If your gross wages earned in any week are less than your weekly benefit amount, you still may be eligible to receive a full or partial benefit payment);

  • Records of any pension payments you are receiving (not including Social Security);
  • If you are not a United States citizen, your Alien Registration Information;
  • If you are a recently separated veteran, the Member 4 Copy of the DD form 214 / 215;

° Other copies of the DD Form 214 / 215 are acceptable, but the Member 4 copy is the most commonly available.

  • If you are separated from work as a civilian employee of the federal government, copies of your Standard Form 8 and Personnel Action Form 50.



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