Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
COVID-19 Essential Workers and Construction Q&A
I'm a construction Laborer, what should I do if my job site has been shut down due to COVID-19?
How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally and my job specifically?
What Steps Can I Take to Stay Safe at Home and at Work?
Employee Rights Q&A
What are my rights as an employee during the pandemic?
Where can I file a complaint if my employer is not following CDC guidelines for COVID-19?
Health & Welfare Fund Q&A
Chicago Laborers' Pension & Welfare Funds/Westchester Questions & Answers
Fox Valley Health & Welfare and Pension Funds Questions & Answers
Training Center Q&A
Is the Training Center Holding Classes?
Unemployment Insurance Q&A Updated 7/27/21
What Should I do if someone has filed a false claim in my name?
What is the Unemployment Insurance Website?
Where can I get legal help filing for unemployment benefits?
How will my Unemployment Benefits be Affected by COVID-19?
Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online?
Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance
Filing a Claim
Certifying a Claim & Receiving Benefits
Exhausting Benefits & Receiving an Extension
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (The $300 Increase in Benefits)
Lost Wages Assistance Information and FAQs
What is FPUC?
What is the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program?
General Q&A Updated 3/30/2022
NEW! How to Order a Free COVID test kit?
NEW! What should I do if I was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
NEW! How long should I isolate from others if I have COVID-19?
NEW! What's the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Who is eligible for a booster shot/additional vaccine doses?
Where can I get a COVID-19 test?
Should I wear a face mask in public?
What are the new symptoms of COVID-19 that CDC has documented?
When and Where Can I get vaccinated?
Get the COVID-19 Vaccine Facts
Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution FAQs
Q. How to get a free COVID test kit?
A. You can order a free COVID test kit via the USPS at: https://special.usps.com/testkits
or by calling 1-800-232-0233
Q. What should I do if I was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19? (From the CDC website as of 1/7/22)
A. It depends on your vaccine status and whether or not you've had COVID-19 in the past 90 days. So we've broken this down into to sections: Who DOES NOT need to quarantine and who SHOULD, starting with who DOES NOT need to quarantine.
Who DOES NOT need to quarantine
If you came into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you do not need to quarantine.
- You are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
- You are ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
- You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (you tested positive using a viral test).
You should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0). Get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate from other people and follow recommendations in the Isolation section below. If you tested positive for COVID-19 with a viral test within the previous 90 days and subsequently recovered and remain without COVID-19 symptoms, you do not need to quarantine or get tested after close contact. You should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0).
Who SHOULD quarantine?
If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are in one of the following groups:
- You are ages 18 or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
- You received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
- You are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.
What to do for quarantine
Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home, if possible.
- For 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19, watch for fever (100.4?F or greater), cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms .
- If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate until you receive your test results. If you test positive, follow isolation recommendations.
- If you do not develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 5 days from the date of your positive test (if you do not have symptoms). If you do develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days from the date your symptoms began (the date the symptoms started is day 0). Follow recommendations in the isolation section below.
- If you are unable to get a test 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19, you can leave your home after day 5 if you have been without COVID-19 symptoms throughout the 5-day period. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after your date of last close contact when around others at home and in public.
- Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, as well as others outside your home throughout the full 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you are unable to quarantine, you should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around others at home and in public.
- If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to quarantine for 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- Do not travel during your 5-day quarantine period. Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact and make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling. If you don’t get tested, delay travel until 10 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19. If you must travel before the 10 days are completed, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel during the 10 days. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
- Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until after 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- Watch for symptoms until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you have symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested.
Quarantine in high-risk congregate settings
In certain congregate settings that have high risk of secondary transmission (such as correctional and detention facilities, homeless shelters, or cruise ships), CDC recommends a 10-day quarantine for residents, regardless of vaccination and booster status. During periods of critical staffing shortages, facilities may consider shortening the quarantine period for staff to ensure continuity of operations. Decisions to shorten quarantine in these settings should be made in consultation with state, local, tribal, or territorial health departments and should take into consideration the context and characteristics of the facility. CDC’s setting-specific guidance provides additional recommendations for these settings.
Q. How long should I isolate from others if I have COVID-19?
A. Isolation is used to separate people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without COVID-19. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, or wear a well-fitting mask when they need to be around others. People in isolation should stay in a specific “sick room” or area and use a separate bathroom if available. Everyone who has presumed or confirmed COVID-19 should stay home and isolate from other people for at least 5 full days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for asymptomatic persons). They should wear a mask when around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days. People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 need to isolate regardless of their vaccination status. This includes:
- People who have a positive viral test for COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
- People with symptoms of COVID-19, including people who are awaiting test results or have not been tested. People with symptoms should isolate even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
What to do for isolation
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a well-fitting mask when you need to be around other people.
Ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms
If you had COVID-19 and had symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed. You can leave isolation after 5 full days.
- You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation?).
- You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period. If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to isolate for a full 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.
- Do not travel during your 5-day isolation period. After you end isolation, avoid travel until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms. If you must travel on days 6-10, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
- Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms.
If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test1 towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation). If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10. Follow additional recommendations for masking and restricting travel as described above.
Note that these recommendations on ending isolation do not apply to people with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised). See section below for recommendations for when to end isolation for these groups.
Ending isolation for people who tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms
If you test positive for COVID-19 and never develop symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of your positive viral test (based on the date you were tested) and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for your positive test. You can leave isolation after 5 full days.
- If you continue to have no symptoms, you can end isolation after at least 5 days.
- You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10 (day 6 through day 10). If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to isolate for 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Follow the recommendations above for ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms.
- Do not travel during your 5-day isolation period. After you end isolation, avoid travel until 10 days after the day of your positive test. If you must travel on days 6-10, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days after your positive test.
- Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until 10 days after the day of your positive test.
If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test1 towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10. Follow additional recommendations for masking and restricting travel described above.
Ending isolation for people who were severely ill with COVID-19 or have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised)
People who are severely ill with COVID-19 (including those who were hospitalized or required intensive care or ventilation support) and people with compromised immune systems might need to isolate at home longer. They may also require testing with a viral test to determine when they can be around others. CDC recommends an isolation period of at least 10 and up to 20 days for people who were severely ill with COVID-19 and for people with weakened immune systems. Consult with your healthcare provider about when you can resume being around other people.
People who are immunocompromised should talk to their healthcare provider about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and the need to continue to follow?current prevention measures? (including wearing a well-fitting mask, staying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. Close contacts of immunocompromised people – including household members – should also be encouraged to receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses to help protect these people.
Q. NEW! What's the difference between quarantine and isolation?
A. You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may or may not have been infected. You isolate when you are sick or when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Q. When and Where can I get vaccinated?
A. All Illinois residents 5 years of age and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for administration to people ages 5 through 17.
Click this link to find the list of vaccine locations that are available to everyone regardless of zip code: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/statewide-vaccination-locations or call (833) 621-1284.
To find and appointment click here: Illinois vaccine appointment locator dashboard
Chicagoans can request an in-home dose by calling (312) 746-4835. For help finding a shot in suburban Cook County, visit cookcountypublichealth.org or call (833) 308-1988.
Q. I’m a construction Laborer, what should I do if my job site has been shut down due to COVID-19?
A. If your job site has been shut down due to COVID-19, notify your Local union immediately.
You may be eligible for unemployment insurance. To file a claim go online at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/individuals/UnemploymentInsurance/Pages/default.aspx. For questions about eligibility click here: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx
Q. How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally, and my job specifically?
A. Currently many job sites are still operating. In some localities, Governors, Mayors, and other leaders are restricting specific types of work to slow the spread of this virus. However, broadly speaking, construction work has not been restricted within the Chicago District Council. With that in mind, it is up to our signatory contractors to determine whether or not they continue operations at this time.
If your employer is asking you to continue to work, please make sure the employer is making every reasonable effort to maintain safe, clean, and healthy work sites. If you believe this is not the case, please reach out to your Local union representative and express your concerns about industrial hygiene at your place of work.
It is impossible to accurately speculate on what will become of everyone’s job in the short or long term. Much of what Laborers do is vital to maintaining the civil infrastructure that makes everyday life work. At this time, there is no talk of work like that being shut down. However, other construction work may be considered more “elective”, often this is private construction, including buildouts. Work like this may be at risk of shutting down, either by your employer or by the government, for health and safety considerations.
- Get vaccinated; get your booster shot if you were fully vaccinated 6 months ago.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering when you go out in public or go to work.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Practice social distancing by limiting person-to-person contact within six feet, especially in large groups or in enclosed spaces. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you regularly come into contact with.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you feel sick, stay home from work to avoid spreading any illness further. If you must go out in public, do your best to avoid close contact with other people.
- If you believe you have contracted COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider BEFORE attempting to go to a hospital. Discuss symptoms and options with your primary care physician.
At the job site:
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering.
- Avoid gathering with large groups of 10 or more people.
- Make sure your employer makes hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities available to all people working on site.
- Hygiene related to the bathroom or portable toilets is also critically important.
- Do not share other workers’ phones, PPE, or other work tools and equipment.
- Report symptoms of COVID-19 immediately. If you are sick, stay home. If you feel sick and are at work, tell your supervisor.
- Cooperate with response measures instituted by your employer and those recommended by health officials at the federal, state, and local levels.
Q. Where can I file a complaint if my employer is not following CDC guidelines for COVID-19?
A. If you believe an employer of essential employees is NOT following CDC Guidelines you may report them. Complaints against public sector employers should be filed with Illinois OSHA here: https://www2.illinois.gov/idol/Laws-Rules/safety/Pages/Hazards.aspx Complaints against private sector employers should be filed with Federal OSHA here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html
Both public and private sector employees may also make complaints directly to the Attorney General’s office at 1-844-740-5076.
Q. What does the Stay At Home Order mean for the Westchester Benefit Fund Office?
A. The Fund Office is an Essential Business under Governor Pritzker’s Stay At Home Order and is continuing to operate. Due to the risk of infection from the COVID-19 virus, most of the Fund Office staff will be working remotely to continue to provide services to you and your family. Visitor access to the Fund Office will be limited until the outbreak subsides.
This is for the health and safety of you, the Fund Office Staff, and your families. Please call the office (708) 562 - 0200 for assistance and they will try to answer your questions over the telephone.
If you have documents to drop off at the Fund Office, you may use the mailbox to the right side of the entry door. The mailbox will be checked periodically during the day and your documents will be processed as soon as possible. Please make sure the documents include your name, ID number, which can be found on your BlueCross BlueShield ID card, and a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions concerning the documents.
If you need to apply for your pension, please call (708) 562-0200 Ext. 530 or email email@example.com to let the Fund Office know that you intend to retire. An application package will be sent to you and representatives will be available by telephone to help you complete the application forms.
Q. Will the Health & Welfare Fund Cover COVID-19 Testing (Westchester)?
A. Testing for COVID-19: Effective March 18, 2020, the Westchester Active and Retiree Plans were amended to provide coverage for diagnostic tests to detect COVID-19 that are approved or authorized by the FDA, including the administration of such tests. The Plans will also provide coverage for services furnished during provider office visits (whether in person or via telehealth), urgent care visits, and emergency room visits that result in an order for, or the administration of, the test described above, but only to the extent such items or services relate to the furnishing or administration of the test or the evaluation of whether the person needs the test. These tests and services related to the tests will be covered without any cost-sharing (meaning they are not subject to a deductible, copayment or co-insurance), regardless of whether they are provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider.
Q. Will Treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A. The Westchester Fund will cover medically necessary treatment (physician, hospital, emergency room), supplies, and prescription medications as with any other sickness, subject to Plan rules.
Q. Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Westchester)?
A. Effective immediately, Telehealth visits with a healthcare provider will be covered the same as physician office visits, subject to Plan rules.
Q. Will Vaccinations for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A. Vaccinations will be covered under the medical plan at 100%.
Q. Is the Fund Office open to participants?
A. The Fund Office is currently open to participants for in-person services. Face covering is optional and we will limit the number of individuals in the customer service room to two. This may change as the COVID situation evolves. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Please contact the Fund Office at (847) 742-0900 if you have any questions.
Q. How are my benefits affected by COVD-19 (Fox Valley)?
A. On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law designed to help Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Act requires health plans to cover certain services in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The following benefit coverage changes are effective immediately:
Q. Will Testing for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A. FDA approved COVID-19 diagnostic testing products, including items and services associated with a provider visit (office, urgent care, and emergency room) that relates to the evaluation, are covered at 100% without deductible, coinsurance, or copays to participants and dependents through the end of the national public health emergency (currently through October 18, 2021).
Q. Is prior authorization required (Fox Valley)?
A. There is no prior authorization required.
Q. Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Fox Valley)?
A. Telehealth services, including those related to the screening for COVID-19 are a covered benefit when offered by providers.
Q. Will my treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A. After diagnosis, follow-up care is covered under the normal plan benefit level.
Q. What about my prescriptions (Fox Valley)?
A. CVS Pharmacy may waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication in an effort to encourage individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay home as much as possible. Certain restrictions apply. Visit www.info.caremark.com/covid-19 for additional details.
Q. Where can I get support in coping (Fox Valley)?
A. Please be reminded that Employee Resource Systems, Inc. is available to support you as you cope with these uncertain times. They are available 24/7/365 at (800) 292-2780 or www.ers-eap.com.
Q. Is the Training Center Holding Classes?
A. Yes. Both training facilities are open and holding classes with COVID measures in place. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Training Fund at 630.653.0006. Here is a link to the class schedule https://www.chicagolaborers.org/classes/schedule.
Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.
Q: Where can I get legal help filing for unemployment benefits?
A. Dues-paying members of our affiliated Locals are automatically members of the Midwest Coalition of Labor and have access to legal services provided by Union Legal Services, LLC. Union Legal Services will help you with the process of applying for unemployment benefits. For members who don't have access to a computer or need additional assistance, Legal Services will fill out the forms and file for you.
They are doing this FREE of charge. Members can call (877) 694-2663 anytime. If all representatives are busy, you can leave a message and it will be returned in the order it was received.
To learn more about your other Midwest Coalition of Labor benefits follow the link. https://coalitionoflabor.org/
Q: What is the Illinois Unemployment Insurance website?
A: Illinois Department of Employment Security website click here
Q: How will my Unemployment Benefits be Affected by COVID-19?
A: Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible.
Q: Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
A: The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is overwhelmed by the extremely high volume of phone calls. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible. The online filing allows IDES to process your claims faster. To file your claims online click here.
Q: Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
A: To file your claims online click here. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible.
Q: What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online?
A: IDES is projecting more claims being filed in April 2020 than were filed in the entire 2019 calendar year. IDES has made technical updates to help the online application system run more smoothly. However, if an applicant is having trouble filing online, or cannot get through to the call center, and there is a delay in processing his or her unemployment claim, IDES will backdate the claim to the date of actual unemployment so the applicant will not be shorted any benefits.
Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance
Q. What if I'm laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual temporarily laid off in this situation could qualify for benefits if he or she was able and available for and actively seeking work. Under emergency rules, IDES recently adopted, the individual would not have to register with the employment service. He or she would be actively seeking work as long as the individual was prepared to return to his or her job as soon as the employer reopened.
Q. What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting.
Q. What if I’m confined to my home Because I must care for my child or because I have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual in any of those situations would be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. However, to qualify for UI, he or she would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual is able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.
Q. What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed, and I feel I have to stay home with the child?
A. Ordinarily, an individual who left work to address childcare needs would be considered to have left work voluntarily and would generally be disqualified from receiving UI, unless the reason for leaving was attributable to the employer. However, the fact that all schools statewide have temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 virus presents a unique situation in which it is unlikely a parent whose child cannot stay home alone has a ready alternative to staying home with the child himself/herself. Under the current circumstances, someone who left work to care for the child could be considered as unemployed through no fault of his her own; in that case, to qualify for UI, the individual would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual is able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.
Q. What if I have reduced wages (part-time work)? Can I work and receive benefits?
A. Yes, if your earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may be eligible for all or partial benefits.
In general, when a claimant files a claim for unemployment benefits, a weekly benefit amount (WBA) for that individual is determined using the amount of wages in the claimant’s work history. High earners will generally max out at $484 per week for their WBA. If for a given week due to a cut in hours, an employee does not earn more than his or her WBA, then that claimant could be eligible for benefits, but their weekly benefit would be reduced by a formula in the Unemployment Insurance Act. If the claimant receives no wages for a given week, they may be entitled to their WBA without reduction. If a claimant receives more than his or her WBA for a given week, they are not considered to be unemployed and are not eligible for benefits. A claimant must meet all other requirements, including certifying that he or she is able and available for work, among others, to receive benefits
Q. Am I eligible for unemployment if I am currently receiving income using my vacation days, sick days, or receiving FMLA payments?
A. Money received from your employer for using your vacation and sick days, as well as FMLA payments, are considered wages and will be taken into account to determine if you are eligible for benefits and, if so, the amount of the benefits.
Q. What determines if I'm able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work?
A. An individual is considered able to work if he or she is mentally and physically capable of performing a job for which a labor market exists. To be considered available for work, an individual cannot impose conditions on the acceptance of work if those conditions essentially leave him or her with no reasonable prospect of work. An individual is actively seeking work if he or she is making an effort that is reasonably calculated to return the individual to work. An individual cannot refuse a suitable job offer or they could lose eligibility for benefits.
Q. How do I look for work?
A. One way to look for work is IDES’s Illinois Job Link (IJL) website, which is an employment service tool used to enhance an individual’s ability to obtain employment.
Q. Am I required to use Illinois Job Link?
A. Normally, an individual is required to register with Illinois Job Link to be eligible for unemployment benefits, but there are exceptions to this requirement, including where local labor market conditions indicate employment service registration would not increase the likelihood of returning to work. This exception applies to workers temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The registration requirement is waived with respect to them.
Q. I am receiving wages from an employer, and I also have a side business where I am an independent contractor. I lost all of my independent contractor work, but I am still receiving some wages from my employer. Am I eligible for benefits?
A. For regular unemployment purposes, payment for services performed by an individual in self-employment is not considered wages under the Unemployment Act. This means such payment: (1) is not reported on the certification form; (2) is not considered in determining if there have been enough wages earned during the base period to be eligible for unemployment; and (3) does not reduce an individual’s weekly benefit amount. If there are enough wages in the base period other than payment for services performed in self-employment, a claimant could be eligible for regular unemployment.
Q. I am an undocumented individual. My employer had been paying me in cash but closed the business as a result of COVID-I9. Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits?
A. In general, individuals who are not lawfully permitted to work in the United States are not able and available to work, and therefore, they are not eligible for regular State unemployment benefits or benefits under the federal stimulus legislation.
Q. I have a green card and was recently laid-off due to COVID-19. Am I eligible?
A. Individuals with green cards issued by the federal government are generally able and available to work, and they could be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Filing a Claim
A. While claims can be filed over the telephone, we ask that you file online due to the high volume of calls IDES is currently receiving. Please go to the IDES website, click on “Individuals” at the top left of the screen, click on “Unemployment Insurance,” scroll down to “File For Unemployment Insurance,” and follow the prompts.Q. When can I file a claim?
Online filing (any time of day, except 8pm to 10pm for processing):
- Those with last names beginning with letters A-M: Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z: Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays.
- Saturdays are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule:
- Last names beginning with letters A-M: Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 am – 6 pm.
- Last names beginning with letters N-Z are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 am – 6 pm.
- Fridays (7:30 am – 6 pm) are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window.
Q. Are local and regional IDES offices open?
A. Out of concern for the safety of Department customers and staff, all local and regional offices are closed to the public at this time. With questions, please contact the Department's Claimant Services Center at (800) 244-5631. Illinois Relay - (800) 526-0844 TTY or 711 | (800) 526-0857 Voice or TTY or 711.
Q. Will my benefits be affected if I cannot file immediately?
A. Yes. The day or time a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount as long as you file within the week following your separation from work. If you were unable to file your claim during such week because of capacity or system limitations, you will have an opportunity to discuss backdating your claim with a representative by calling (800) 244-5631. Illinois Relay - (800) 526-0844 TTY or 711 | (800) 526-0857 Voice or TTY or 711. However, you cannot delay filing because you thought that you would be recalled immediately or because you thought that you were going to find another job quickly. These are not valid excuses for not filing promptly.
Q. What information do I need to file my claim?
A. It is important to have the following information before you begin the filing process. The application will time out after an hour of nonuse:
- Your Social Security number
- Your Driver’s License or State ID
- Your employment history from the past 18 months, including the name of employers, start date, last day of work, and number of days worked
- If you are claiming a dependent child or a dependent spouse, you will need to provide your dependent’s name, social security number and date of birth
Q. What happens after I file my claim?
A. After your claim is filed, IDES will send you a UI Finding notice, which will let you know if you are eligible for benefits. The UI Finding will include information such as:
- Your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA), which is the amount you are eligible to receive each week
- Your Dependent Allowance, if applicable
- Your first certification date
- Other information pertinent to your claim, including your Maximum Benefit Allowance, the total amount you are eligible to receive during your benefit year (26 times your WBA)
Certifying a Claim & Receiving Benefits
Q. What is the difference between filing a claim and certifying?
A. Filing a claim is the application process you undertake to determine whether you qualify for unemployment benefits. Certifying is a process that first occurs two weeks after you have filed your claim. Every two weeks you need to certify that you are able and available to work, are actively seeking work, and report any income you received.
Q. How do I certify?
A. Certification involves answering a list of questions that are asked to determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the weeks in question. You will be assigned a certification day; either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and will be asked questions pertaining to the two weeks immediately preceding.
Example: If your call date is Monday, 04/06/2020, you will be asked questions pertaining to the week of 03/22/2020 through 04/04/2020.
If you miss your regular certification day, you can certify on Thursday or Friday of that week. You may also certify on your regular day in the following week (or Thursday or Friday of the following week). Instructions on the certification process are located on our website.
Q. When will I start receiving my benefits?
A. Once you have certified, it will be determined if you are eligible to receive benefits based on the answers you provided. If you are eligible to receive benefits, generally you will receive a payment within 2 to 3 business days. Payments will be sent to your debit card; or if you set up a direct deposit, payments will be deposited into your bank account.
Q. Will I receive an additional benefit if I have children or a spouse who does not work?
A. You may receive a Dependent Allowance in addition to your weekly benefit amount if you have either (1) a dependent child under the age of eighteen (18) or (2) a non-working spouse. You can claim one or the other. You cannot claim both your spouse and your child as a dependent. More than one child will not increase your benefits. You cannot claim your spouse if your spouse is also receiving unemployment benefits. The minimum allowance for a dependent spouse is $15; the maximum allowance is $93. The minimum allowance for a dependent child is $26; the maximum allowance is $185.
Q. Are my benefits taxable?
A. Unemployment insurance benefits are subject to State and Federal income taxes. You can elect to have deductions taken out at the time you file your claim or after. Deductions are 10% federal income taxes and 4.95% state income taxes. You cannot elect deductions on a payment you have already been paid.
Q. If I am receiving Workers’ Compensation payments, will this affect my unemployment benefits?
A. Yes. 100% of your workers’ compensation will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount. An individual that is unable to work at all due to a temporary disability is completely ineligible for unemployment.
Q. I receive a pension. Will this affect my unemployment benefits?
A. If the pension was paid by an employer in your base period or if the employer is the chargeable employer on your claim, those pension payments are considered disqualifying income and 50% of the amount you receive may be deducted from your weekly benefit amount (WBA) if you paid into the pension, or 100% will be deducted if your employer paid the full amount. If you received a lump sum amount and did not have the option to receive monthly payments, a deduction will be made only for the week in which you received the payment. If it has been more than 18 months since you worked for the employer, the pension you are paid is not disqualifying income and will not be deducted from your benefits.
Q. I received a debit card in the mail but it did not have any funds on it. Why not?
A. The debit card is mailed soon after the claim is filed and processed. The funds are placed on the debit card two days after the claimant certifies which is generally two weeks after the claim is filed.
Q. Can I view my payment history online?
A. Yes. For a regular UI claim, you can sign into your online account and click "Individual." Within that, click "Unemployment Insurance" and then "Payment." On that page is "Payment Information" with a "View Payment History" link (which is the second selection). For PUA, you can sign into your account and view your payment history by clicking on "Manage Claimant Account" then clicking on "Payment History."
Exhausting Benefits & Receiving an Extension
Q. I have exhausted my rights to regular unemployment insurance (UI). Are additional benefits available because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A.Yes. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is a temporary program that provides additional weeks of benefits for claimants who exhaust all 26 weeks of their original regular UI benefits. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) extended PEUC through September 4, 2021. If you previously exhausted your PEUC benefits, the additional payments cannot be backdated for weeks prior to March 14, 2021.
Q. If I exhaust all of my weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), are there any other extensions?
A. If you exhaust PEUC and the state is triggered "on" to Extended Benefits (EB), you may be eligible to receive EB. Depending on the unemployment rate, the law provides for either 13 or 20 additional weeks of EB. In most cases, if you qualify, you will be automatically moved to this program.
Q. Do I have to file an application for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Extended Benefits (EB)?
A. Most eligible claimants will automatically be moved between programs. A few claimants who live in other states may receive notice that they must file an additional application.
Q. I am currently receiving Extended Benefits (EB). What happens if I exhaust EB, or EB triggers off? A. Claimants on EB as of March 11, 2021 will remain on EB. When they exhaust EB, or EB triggers off, they will transition back to PEUC, which was extended through September 4, 2021.
Q. If I live outside of Illinois, am I still eligible for EB?
A.Yes. If you lived in another state but commuted to work in Illinois, if otherwise eligible, you would receive the amount of EB triggered “on” in Illinois. If you live in another state but did not commute to Illinois (for example, you moved to Alabama after working in Illinois), you could receive the amount of EB that is payable in Illinois but only if your state of residence has triggered “on.” However, if your state of residence has triggered “off” of EB or was never triggered "on" and Illinois remains triggered “on,” you are eligible for only two more weeks of EB in Illinois.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (The $300 Increase in Benefits)
Q. What is FPUC?
A. FPUC provides an additional $300 per week in supplemental benefits to eligible claimants. The $300 benefit runs from December 27, 2020 through September 4, 2021.
Q. When will IDES begin paying out the extra $300?
A. IDES began paying out the $300 FPUC benefit for all programs beginning January 4, 2021.
Q. Who is eligible for the additional $300?
A. Anyone who receives at least $1 of unemployment benefits for a week, during the period after December 26, 2020 and before September 4, 2021.
Q. Do I need to apply for the additional $300?
A. No. You do not need to take any additional action to receive this supplemental payment. Continue to certify as normal for the unemployment benefit you are currently receiving.
Q. Are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants eligible for the additional $300?
A. Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program.
Q. Once my application is processed and I begin receiving my unemployment benefits, will I also receive the additional $300 at the same time?
A. Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program. Under federal law, anyone eligible for at least a $1 in benefits for a week will be eligible for the $300 extra that will be received at the same time as their unemployment payments. The first week for which FPUC may be paid is the week ending January 2, 2021; and the last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending September 4, 2021.
A. The PUA program supports individuals who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as independent contractors. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) extended PUA to September 4, 2021. Eligibility for this extension began March 14, 2021.
Q. I receive a 1099 for the job(s) I do as an independent contractor. Am I eligible for PUA?
A. You may be eligible for regular unemployment insurance, as a “1099 employee” is not synonymous with “independent contractor” as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Act.
For two reasons, in Illinois, every individual who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits, even if they have been told they're not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program - because they’re an independent contractor, part of the “gig economy,” or for some other reason.
First, it’s possible that whoever told them they were not covered was wrong. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for regular UI benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under Illinois law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.
Second, the PUA program has been established for individuals who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work for reasons attributable to COVID-19 and not covered by the state’s regular UI program. To establish eligibility under the PUA program, the claimant will have to demonstrate he/she is not eligible under the regular UI program. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular UI program can help establish eligibility under the PUA program.Q. What does “Reasons attributable to COVID-19” mean?
A. PUA provides benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed in the CARES Act and stated below:
- The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
- The individual must quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
- The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Note: The business must be closed, not simply providing reduced services.
- The individual is self-employed (which includes independent contractors) and the individual has experienced a significant diminution of their customary or usual services because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, even absent a suspension of services. Note: This provision does not apply to employees.
- The individual has been denied continued unemployment benefits because the individual refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that, in either instance, is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, those related to facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.
- An individual provides services to an educational institution or educational service agency and the individual is unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in the work schedule that is directly caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, changes in schedules and partial closures.
- An individual is an employee and their hours have been reduced or the individual was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
A. Any individual that receives a payment of PUA after December 27, 2020 is required to provide documentation substantiating employment or self-employment, (e.g. your federal income tax return or, if you do not have a return, you must provide other documentation to show your earnings in the prior tax year), or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment. The deadline for providing such documentation depends on when the individual filed the initial PUA claim.
Filing New Applications for PUA - Individuals filing a new PUA application on or after January 31, 2021 (regardless of whether the claim is backdated), are required to provide documentation within 21 days of application or the date the individual is directed to submit the documentation by IDES , whichever is later. The deadline may be extended if the individual has shown good cause under state UI law within 21 days.
Filing Continued Claims for PUA - Individuals who applied for PUA before January 31, 2021 and receive a payment of PUA on or after December 27, 2020 (regardless of which week ending date is being paid), are required to provide documentation substantiating employment or self-employment, or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment, within 90 days of the application date or when directed to submit the documentation by IDES, whichever is later. The deadline may be extended if the individual has shown good cause under UI law.Q. I did not file a tax return in 2019 and/or 2020. Will I be eligible for benefits?
A. Yes, though independent contractors, sole proprietors, and others who do not have wages reported for them by an employer will have to provide other documentation of the amount of net income they received in 2019 and/or 2020, and be otherwise eligible.
Q. I was fired from my job for misconduct and was denied regular state unemployment insurance benefits. Do I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
A. No. An individual who is otherwise able to work and available for work, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons would be qualified for PUA. However, an individual who is discharged for misconduct is not unemployed due to a COVID-19 reason and would not qualify for PUA benefits.
A. This depends on the amount of income from self-employment you earned in the past and currently. A weekly benefit amount will be determined based on the amount of your past income. If your current weekly income does not exceed your weekly benefit amount, not including dependent allowance, for any given week, you may be eligible for benefits for that week. If your income exceeds your weekly benefit amount, then you would not be eligible for benefits for any such week.
Q. If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, is the employer liable for the cost of benefits?
A. The programs under the federal stimulus legislation are funded by the federal government and not Illinois. For regular unemployment compensation, employers generally contribute to the cost of benefits for their former employees. The contribution rate of an experience-rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees, so this rate may rise when an employer furloughs or lays off employees due to COVID-19. If legislation is passed making claims related to COVID-19 non-chargeable to the employer, then employers furloughing or laying off workers due solely to COVID-19 would not be charged for the benefit costs, and the charges would be “pooled” between all employers. This would likely result in increased unemployment tax rates in future years for all employers because the entire pool of employers would need to be tasked with replenishing the benefit trust fund.
Q. Are there resources for my business potentially closing or laying off employees?
A. Rapid Response Services are available to employers who are planning or have gone through a permanent closure or mass layoff at a plant, facility, or enterprise, or a natural or other disaster, that results in mass job dislocation. The State Dislocated Worker Unit coordinates with employers to provide on-site information to workers and employers about employment and retraining services designed to help participants retain employment when feasible, or obtain re-employment as soon as possible. For more information, visit Rapid Response Services for Businesses or contact your local Illinois workNet Center.
Q. If I want to protest a claim, how long do I have?
A. You have 10 calendar days to protest in a timely manner. Protests must be postmarked or faxed by the due date indicated on the Notice of Claim. If you receive a notice after the due date, please indicate that on your response, return your response as soon as possible, and keep the envelope.
Q. Are employers going to be given extra time for filing the monthly payroll or quarterly wage reports?
A. At this time, the law has not been changed to give employers extra time for filing monthly or quarterly wage reports. However, employers are reminded that they can file a written request with the Director prior to the wage report filing due date to ask for an extension to file the wage report. The maximum extension for filing a monthly wage report is 15 days. The maximum extension for filing a quarterly wage report is 30 days. In order to make the request for an extension, the employer must state a reason for the request. Employers are encouraged to file their requests for extension via the MyTax website.
Q. I run a not-for-profit entity and have less than 4 employees. Can I retroactively elect to be liable under the UI Act so my employees can receive unemployment benefits?
A. No, but if the employees become unemployed because of COVID-19 issues, they could be eligible for benefits under the federal stimulus legislation.
Q. Can the employer require staff to utilize leave in lieu of paying them their salary? How does this affect unemployment eligibility?
A. An employer’s decision to require employees to utilize available paid leave or the equivalent should be based on the internal business policies of the employer and any applicable collective bargaining agreements. Whether the payment is disqualifying for unemployment purposes depends on the type of payment, when it was paid, and when IDES is notified of the payment. To notify us of potentially disqualifying issues, please sign up for SIDES at My Tax Illinois
Q. I was forced to furlough some workers, but now they refuse to come back to work. What should I do?
A. Ultimately, this is a business decision by the employer, but if an employer makes an offer to re-hire an employee, the employee refuses, and the employee remains on unemployment insurance, the employer should file a notice with IDES.
Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.
Q. What is the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program?
A. Under the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, beginning with the week ending January 2, 2021, someone who earned a combination of income from a traditional job and had earnings of at least $5,000 during the applicable period as an independent contractor might be eligible for a $100 supplemental payment in addition to their regular UI benefit, extended benefits (EB) and federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). This additional amount is not available for those receiving PUA. This additional benefit is known as Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).
For more information, including how to apply, visit the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) page.
Q: Should I wear a face mask in public? Updated 2/8/22
A. As of July 27, 2021, the CDC has advised that everyone, regardless of vaccination status resume wearing masks in indoor public spaces in areas where there is high or substantial transmission to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others. Click here for CDC guidance on mask wearing for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
As of February 28, 2002 the state of Illinois will no longer require that masks be worn in certain public spaces.
Q. Who is eligible for a booster shot/additional vaccine doses? updated 5/20/22
A.The CDC has approved COVID-19 boosters for everyone five years and older. That means if you or your 5+ child were fully vaccinated in December 2021 or earlier, you should go get your first booster shot today.
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