What Disqualifies You from Unemployment Benefits in Illinois

Many Illinois residents depend on steady employment. A sudden loss of income may leave you struggling to pay your mortgage and utilities or keep up with the grocery bill. Unemployment benefits can help you navigate the financial difficulties of losing your job. Find out what may disqualify you from receiving these temporary benefits.

Unemployment Disqualifications

If you find yourself out of work in the state of Illinois, you may be eligible to receive weekly unemployment benefits to help support your personal finances. However, many situations could disqualify you from getting these funds.

Previously Earning Too Little

To qualify for unemployment, you must submit income information for a recent 12-month period (or base period) that shows earnings of at least $1,600. Of this amount, at least $440 must come from income made outside your highest-earning quarter. This requirement ensures you had a stable income during that time.

You may not qualify for unemployment insurance if you didn’t earn adequate income during the base period. The typical base period varies depending on the date your unemployment benefits begin, as outlined below:

  • Benefits starting Jan. 1 through March 31: Base period from Oct. 1 two years ago through Sept. 30 of last year.
  • Benefits starting April 1 through June 30: Base period from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 of last year.
  • Benefits starting July 1 through Sept. 30: Base period from April 1 last year through March 31 this year.
  • Benefits starting Oct. 1 through Dec. 31: Base period from July 1 last year through June 30 this year.

You can use the next qualifying base period if your earnings don’t meet the minimum threshold during the standard base period. For example, if your unemployment benefits begin in the middle of March but you don’t qualify under the standard base period, you can apply using the base period from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 of last year instead. You can’t receive unemployment benefits if you didn’t earn enough income during either of the two optional base periods.

Currently Working or Earning Too Much

You can’t be working more than part time to get unemployment benefits, and your earnings must also fall below a certain amount. You’ll receive less if you’re currently earning money from another employer, even if it’s below the threshold for disqualification.

Employment That’s Not Subject to Unemployment Insurance Law

You can only claim unemployment if your previous employer was subject to Illinois’s unemployment insurance law. Government, railroad, domestic, and agricultural work often exclude you from unemployment benefits.

Voluntary Unemployment

Unemployment must be involuntary for you to claim benefits. You can’t quit your job over a labor dispute or for any other reason.

Unemployment Due to Misconduct

You can’t qualify for unemployment insurance or receive benefits if you lose your job for misconduct, a felony charge, a theft related to your job, or are at fault for any reason.

Enrollment in School

You can’t receive unemployment benefits if you’re enrolled full time in school and unavailable to accept full-time employment. Certain training courses approved by the Illinois Department of Employment Security director may be exceptions to this rule. 

Inability To Work

You can’t accept unemployment benefits if you’re unable to work. Reasons for being unable to work include the following:

  • You’re on vacation.
  • You’re doing full-time volunteer work, such as missionary work.
  • You’re disabled.
  • You don’t have reliable transportation to get to work.
  • You have family responsibilities, such as caring for a child or elderly relative.
  • You’re too ill to work.

Unwillingness To Seek or Accept Work

Actively seeking unemployment is essential to receiving unemployment benefits. The state of Illinois requires you to keep a log of all job search activities for every week you claim benefits. Usually, you must register with Illinois Employment Services and upload your resume. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as a temporary lay-off, short-term reduction to part-time hours, or limited unemployment period between seasonal work. You may not need to file with Illinois Employment Services if you belong to a labor union with adequate placement services.

You must accept any suitable job offer if you have the necessary skills to complete the job, are physically fit for the position, and are within a reasonable distance from the workplace.

Incomplete Registration With Illinois Employment Services

You must complete your application for unemployment insurance honestly and in full. You won’t receive unemployment benefits if you fail to provide information for every section on the application or provide false information.

How To File for Unemployment Benefits

If you need to file for Illinois unemployment insurance, you can do so through the Illinois Department of Employment Security site. You’ll need to provide your full name, social security number, driver’s license or state ID number, and details for all the employers you’ve worked for in the past 18 months. You’ll need the birth date and social security number for any dependents you’re claiming.

You must provide gross wage information for any sum earned since Sunday of the week you apply and details of pension payments. You’ll need to supply more details if you’re not a U.S. resident, if you were a civilian employee of the federal government, or if you’re a recently separated veteran.

Weather the Storm With Smart Financial Planning

While unemployment insurance can help you through a difficult time, you shouldn’t rely solely on this money if you lose your job. There are many situations where you may not qualify for these funds. Proper financial planning will give you the savings you need to safely weather a period of unemployment while maintaining your home and managing your daily living expenses. Consult with one of our professionals at Pasquesi Sheppard to learn more.