How Much Unemployment Will I Receive in Illinois?

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Unemployment insurance benefits are, at times, the only source of income laid-off workers receive in Illinois. However, before people are approved for the benefits and find out how much they will receive in their check, they must meet qualifications that are interpreted and enforced by staff members of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Gross wages and length of service are keys to determining benefit amounts.

Qualifying to Receive Benefits

Before receiving unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois, unemployed workers must have worked in covered employment. Covered employment jobs are jobs that require employers to pay unemployment insurance tax. Teens who work at home for their parents and self-employed workers are generally not considered covered employment. Unemployed workers also cannot have lost their jobs due to their own fault. For example, workers cannot lose their jobs because they stole company equipment.

Calculating Weekly Unemployment Benefits

To receive benefits in Illinois, unemployed workers must have earned gross wages during the first four of the last five quarters. These quarters are known as the base period. At least $1,600 in gross wages are required during the base period. Additionally, at least $440 of the $1,600 must get earned outside the highest quarter in the base period. The amounts of benefits unemployed workers receive are based on their gross wages. Earning higher gross wages during the base period helps unemployed workers to receive higher weekly unemployment insurance benefits.

Weekly Minimum and Maximum Unemployment Benefits

Illinois has minimum and maximum weekly unemployment benefit amounts. As of May 2011, the least amount of benefits unemployed workers can receive is $51 a week, and the most they can receive is $385 a week. If unemployment benefits claimants are married and their spouses are not working, they can receive as much as $458 a week. Furthermore, if claimants have dependent children, they can receive up to $531 a week.

Part-Time Employment

If unemployment insurance claimants work part-time jobs, they can still collect weekly benefits. However, the state deducts part-time wages that exceed 50 percent of unemployed workers’ weekly unemployment benefits from their check. For example, workers with weekly unemployment benefits of $110 can earn up to $55 a week working part-time without having money deducted from their unemployment benefits. However, if they earn more than $55 a week, the state will reduce the amount of their weekly benefits check. Therefore, claimants with weekly benefits of $110 who earn $76.50 working part-time, will have $21.50 deducted from their weekly benefits, and receive $89 in their weekly benefits.

Seeking Employment

Unemployed workers are required to seek permanent employment to continue to receive unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois. They must also maintain a work search record. Information unemployment insurance benefits claimants must provide on the record is their name, Social Security number and the date they contacted a hiring manager for a job. They must also provide the name and address of the person they contacted, how they contacted the person (email, telephone, office visit), the type of work they were seeking and the outcome of the contact. Upon request by the Illinois Department of Employment Security claimants must present a copy of their work search record to staff members.