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    Sadly, many unemployed workers in Illinois lose their unemployment benefits because they do not follow the guidelines set by the Illinois UI Agency. Protect your UI benefits by learning what requirements you must follow according to Illinois Department of Employment Security guidelines.

    These guidelines are described in the State of Illinois Department of Employment Security (DES) Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook. This handbook provides detailed instructions on how to apply for UI benefits and protect your benefits. This article will summarize some of the main points of the handbook.

    First, it is worth noting that in Illinois, unemployment benefits are paid entirely by employers. Unlike social security benefits, which are funded from deductions off your wages, you do not pay any part of your UI benefits.

    Eligibility Requirements:

    To receive unemployment insurance benefits in Illinois you must:

    – Have earned $1,600 or more during your base period, of which at least $440 were earned on another quarter besides your highest earning quarter.

    NOTE: Your base period includes the first four calendar quarters of the last five quarters since you filed your initial UI claim. Your highest earning quarter is the calendar quarter when you received the highest income.

    – You must have lost your job due to no fault of your own. If you quit your job voluntarily, retired or were fired with cause (e.g. committing a felony or gross misconduct), you may be disqualified from receiving UI payments.

    – You must register for work with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and actively search for work during every week you claim for UI benefits.

    – You must certify your weekly benefits. If you do not certify for a weekly benefit, IDES may understand you have found work and cancel your claim.

    – You must serve a waiting week before UI payments start. Your waiting week is the first week you certify your weekly benefits for. During this waiting week you do not receive payment. If you follow IDES requirements, you can receive credit for the waiting week in future weeks.

    – Report any income you earn while receiving UI benefits. This includes tips, commissions, board and lodging and other benefits you might receive for your work.

    – Only claim for UI payments if you are willing and able to work. If you are not able to work due to illness, vacation or some other problem, you should not claim for UI payments. Unemployed workers who fall sick or suffer some kind of disability can apply for special benefits.

    If you claim for UI benefits without meeting these requirements your claim could be canceled and your future eligibility for benefits may be jeopardized.

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    Illinois Jobs

    On December 17, 2010 Congress extended the EUC08 unemployment benefits program. This allows Illinois unemployed workers to continue receiving UI benefits until January 2012, in the case of EUC payments, and June, 2012, in the case of Extended Benefits. However, the EUC and EB programs vary from state to state depending on local unemployment agency guidelines and local unemployment rate. How does the extension affect Illinois workers? What benefits are Illinois unemployed workers eligible for? This article will answer these questions so are able to benefit as much as possible from these programs.

    EUC08

    The EUC08 started in 2008 to help fight the sudden rise in unemployment caused by the 2007 recession. The December 2010 extension of this program continues to focus its resources on states who have suffered the most during the recent financial crisis. The EUC does this by providing more benefits to states with higher unemployment rates. Illinois has a seasonally adjusted employment (SAE) rate of 9.2 percent, an improvement from the 12 percent peak of 2010. What does this SAE rate afford unemployed workers in Illinois?

    The EUC guidelines allows states with a SAE rate of 6.0 percent or a SAE of 4.0 percent sustained for 13 weeks to qualify for Tier 3 benefits. Tier 3 benefits allow workers to receive up to 13 weeks of benefits.

    Tier 4 benefits are restricted to states that either have a three-month SAE rate of 8.5 percent or a 13-week SAE of 6.0 percent. Tier 4 grants unemployed workers with six extra weeks of UI.

    Illinois qualifies for all EUC tiers and according to current projections will continue to do so until the EUC program ends on the 31st of December 2011.

    Extended Benefits

    The federal extended benefits provides insured unemployed workers with up to 13 extra weeks of UI. Your weekly benefit amount will be the same as you received during EUC and regular Illinois UI benefits.

    In Illinois you do not have to apply for Extended Benefits. Once your EUC benefits run out and you continue to certify your weekly benefits your Extended Benefits claim will start automatically.

    Once your EB claim starts you will be sent an EB Search Form you will need to fill in and submit to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Failure to submit this form could cause your claim to be cancelled. If you haven’t already , you must register for work with the Illinois Employment Service as soon as you receive your first EB letter. If you do not have a set return date to work for a registered employer your job prospects will be set to “not good” and you will be required to accept any employment you qualify for that pays more than your current weekly benefits amount.

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