Limits for Unemployment Benefits in Illinois


Unemployment insurance benefits provide unemployment workers with a weekly paycheck while they search for a new job. The state of Illinois sets limits on the maximum amount of time that an unemployed resident can draw benefits and who can qualify. Unemployed workers in the state cannot receive more than the maximum amount of weekly benefits prescribed by law, regardless of how much they earn.


The state of Illinois places limits on who can receive unemployment compensation. Individuals who quit their job, receive a pink slip due to misconduct or are involved in a labor dispute cannot receive unemployment insurance benefits. Individuals who do not pay into the system, such as the self-employed, some professionals and corporate executives, do not qualify for the program. Most Illinois residents who work either part-time or full-time for an employer can receive unemployment benefits.

Time Frame

Illinois residents can qualify for up to 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits funded by the state of Illinois. Illinois residents who use up their regular benefits can apply for 20 weeks of extended benefits due to a high state unemployment rate as of April 2011, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Extended benefits in Illinois will terminate Jan. 7, 2012.


Illinois residents can also qualify for four separate tiers of emergency unemployment compensation benefits funded by the federal government. In order, these four tiers provide up to 20, 14, 13 and 6 weeks of benefits after an individual exhausts their regular unemployment benefits. Employees must qualify by Dec. 24, 2011, to make their initial claim for tier 1 benefits and by Dec. 31, 2011 to move up to the next tier of benefits. Residents should contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security to determine if the state or federal government has extended benefits beyond the end of 2011.


An individual can qualify for minimum weekly unemployed benefits of $51 with a maximum limit of $385 per week as of April 2011. Married individuals with spouses who do not work can receive a maximum of $458 in benefits per week in the state of Illinois, and households with dependent children can qualify for benefits of up to $531 per week. Illinois residents who receive emergency unemployment compensation may have their benefits reduced. For example, a tier 4 extension only allows a resident to draw a maximum of 50 percent of earnings earned during the 26 weeks of regular unemployment compensation.

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