Unemployment Benefits

Can I apply for unemployment benefits?

  • To get unemployment benefits, you have to have a valid Social Security Number and a current work permit. 
  • Sadly, if anyone applies for Unemployment with a non valid social Security, he or she will be reported to the federal government, which oversees the state programs. Your documentation will be subject to verification. 


What number of hours worked are needed to qualify for Illinois Unemployment Benefits?

You are eligible if you:

  • Have earned $1,600.00 total during your “base period”; $440 must have been earned outside of your highest paid quarter; 
  • Your “base period” consists of the four calendar quarters before a claim for benefits was filed
  • If you worked part-time, you are eligible as long as you meet the income requirement.


Who is covered? 

  • All gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors, meaning those self-employed, will be able to apply for unemployment benefits, and their benefits will be calculated using a formula from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, plus the additional $600 weekly benefit from the federal government.
  • Workers who have been diagnosed, have symptoms or are seeking a diagnosis, and who are unemployed, partly unemployed or cannot work as a result, will be covered. This also applies to workers who must care for a member of their family or household diagnosed with Coronavirus.
  • Workers staying at home because their children’ s school or daycare is closed, workers taking care of elderly parents or another person at their home and cannot work because services for them are shut down because of coronavirus are eligible.
  • Workers in self-quarantine are covered, same as workers unable to get to work because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the outbreak.
  • Workers who were looking for a job, and workers laid-off right after they started a new job and now can’t get there because of the Coronavirus are eligible for benefits, even if they do not have a sufficient work history to normally qualify for benefits. But people who are looking for a job for the first time are not eligible.
  • Workers who were not laid-off but quit because of a quarantine recommended by a healthcare provider, or because their child’s daycare closed and are the primary caregiver are covered, but not workers who quit or want to quit because of fear that work puts them at risk.
  • Workers who can work from home, as well as those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave are not covered.
  • Some domestic workers are eligible for unemployment insurance: www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/my-rights-domestic-worker
  • Certain categories of Immigrants qualify for benefits
    • You must have valid work authorization, both at the time the wages were earned and at the time you are looking for work. The following are eligible, so long as this requirement is met:
      • Lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders)
      • DACA recipients
      • Lawfully in the U.S. to perform services (e.g., H2, H-1B workers, and any other with work authorization)
      • Permanently Residing Under Color of Law (PRUCOL) (e.g., refugees, immigrants who have been granted asylum, among others)


Who is not covered? 

  • If you left work voluntarily due to concern about COVID-19;
  • If you are receiving paid leave.
  • Are able and available to return to work.
  • Undocumented workers

*Contact Legal Aid Chicago at (312) 341-1070 if you have any additional questions.


How much will I get? 

For those with a valid SSN, the unemployment benefits extends to many workers -- fully unemployed, partly unemployed and those cannot work for different reasons related to coronavirus.

Unemployment programs are managed by each state, and the amounts of money each worker receives depends on their income and the state limits, usually 47 % of their regular income. In Illinois, the maximum benefits are $484 per week for a single worker, $587 per week for a married worker, and $669 per week for workers with children.

However, the federal government is going to add an extra $600 per week on top of the state benefit. In Illinois, that will amount to the maximum being $1,084 for a single worker, $1,187 for a married worker, and $1,269 for workers with children. 

Each state will decide if the payments are consolidated or paid the extra portion separately, but payments will be made on a weekly basis.

Part-time workers are also eligible for benefits, and they are also eligible for the additional $600 weekly benefit.

How long will my unemployment benefits last? 

The state Unemployment benefits last for 26, but the federal government is adding 13 more weeks, so the total benefits will last a total of 39 weeks.

But, the extra $600 payment will only be given for up to four months, covering weeks of unemployment ending July 31.

This could be extended, but that is the law, for now. 

This program will cover workers eligible for unemployment benefits starting on Jan. 27, 2020, and through Dec. 31, 2020.

If a worker was already using Unemployment insurance, he or she can apply for the remaining 13 weeks, along with the extra $600 payment through July 31.


How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

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