Claiming dependents on unemployment

Claiming dependents on unemployment DEFAULT

Can I claim the Child Tax Credit if I’m unemployed and received benefits?

Unemployment can trigger a lot of questions where taxes are concerned, especially if you have children. The good news is that you can still claim the Child Tax Credit if you’re unemployed and have received benefits.

Mom considering unemployment tax benefits and child tax credit as she reads from a laptop.

However, the details of your unemployment situation may affect your eligibility for the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. It may also affect how much the credit will be worth for you.

For example, if you have very little taxable or earned income, the value of these credits may be reduced. Let’s review the income rules related to both the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Tax Credit.

Have other tax-related unemployment questions?  Be sure to visit our Unemployment Resource Center.

Unemployment and tax credit rules

Child Tax Credit – Receiving unemployment income won’t prevent you from claiming the Child Tax Credit. However, because this credit reduces the tax you owe, you must have some taxable income to claim it. The Child Tax Credit is worth up to $2,000 per qualifying child, with a refundable portion of up to $1,400.

If your tax liability (what you owe in taxes for this year) is below $2,000, then you will not be able to use the full amount of the credit. This may be the case for you if unemployment benefits were your only source of income, or if your income has been greatly reduced this year.

Additional Tax Credit – You must have earned income of more than $2,500 to qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit. If unemployment was your only income, you aren’t eligible to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.

Good news for your 2020 tax filing: A special “lookback” rule in the Dec. 2020 stimulus bill lets you continue to claim this valuable credit–even if your income changed in 2020.

There are other conditions that must be met to qualify for these credits. You can review those details in our Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit post.

Unemployment affects other tax benefits

There are other tax credits that may be affected by unemployment. You must have earned income in the year to claim either of these credits: the Earned Income Credit (EIC) and the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Help with the Child Tax Credit and unemployment income

Whether you choose to use one of our online programs or to work with a tax pro, H&R Block is here to help you claim the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit.


Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Eligibility for unemployment insurance is determined by state law. More than half of jobless workers do not claim unemployment benefits because either they do not qualify or feel the filing process to be very complex. Contrary to this, numerous people meet the criteria for benefits and state unemployment offices have also reduced the amount of necessary paperwork over a period of time. This article will make eligibility criteria clear for filing unemployment benefits.

Want to know if you are eligible? Use our Eligibility Calculator

Unemployment Eligibility Requirements

eligibility requirements

Based on your state there may be eligibility requirements for unemployment coverage including having worked for a definite period of time. The Job Service may need job seekers to apply for jobs, submit resumes, and not turn down a position if it meets certain standards.

Other Eligibility Factors to determine benefits are:

  • Must be monetary eligible
  • Past earnings activity (labor force attachment)
  • Conditions of job separation
  • Be totally or partially unemployed
  • If you are identified as likely to tire out unemployment benefits and are registered in the worker profiling and reemployment services program, you have to fully participate in all assessment interviews, orientation, and referred reemployment services.

The State Job Service Offices are brilliant resources to aid with a job search. Many free services are provided including career counseling, job listings, resume and cover letter writing help, and training. Take benefit of the assistance state job service offices can give you –it will make your job easier.

Monetary Eligibility

Estimate Benefits

After filing an initial application for Unemployment Insurance benefits, you will obtain a Determination of Unemployment Compensation with facts about your monetary eligibility. The monetary determination is not an assurance of payment. It is to give advice to you and your employer that a claim for benefits has been filed, if qualified, what the weekly benefit rate will be and upon which earnings that rate is based.

Use our unemployment calculator to determine your eligibility.

Example 1:

Let’s take an example from the state of California. Anyone may file a claim for jobless benefits in California. However, not all those who file will be entitled. In order to be qualified you must first have adequate work and earnings to set up a claim (what’s recognized as Monetary Eligibility). The wages may be from work in California only, in California and another state(s), or from work with the federal government or U.S. military service in any state.

If in doubt, file the claim and allow the Employment Development Department (EDD) make the conclusion. If you cannot establish a valid California claim the EDD will tell you what your options are for getting a valid claim.

California glances at earnings grouped by calendar quarter. A quarter consists of three precise months; January, February, and March from the 1st quarter of the year, and so on. By law, the Employment Development Department can only employ the four quarters that ended before the last quarter to assess earnings. These four earnings are called the Base period of the claim; it is the only period of earnings that can be used to decide present eligibility.

How the Base Period is Determined?

Wages are drawn from a one-year period (four calendar quarters) to compute eligibility. This one-year period is called the Base Period.

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: January, February, or March – The Base Period will be the first nine months (Jan-Sept) of last year and the last three months (Oct-Dec) of the year before last;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: April, May, or June – The Base Period will be all twelve months (Jan-Dec) of last year;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: July, August, or September – The Base Period will be the first three months of the current year (Jan-Mar) and the last nine months (Apr-Dec) of the last year;

If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: October, November, or December – The Base Period will be the first six months (Jan-June) of the current year and last six months (Jul- Dec) of the last year.

The quarter you file and the previous quarter (the months in red and white) do NOT count at all toward the Base Period, regardless of how much you earned. Neither does any time before the Base Period, even if you worked for fifty years. Benefits are only depending on the Base Period, which is, in turn, decided by the date you file for benefits.

Example 2:
Let’s consider the earnings requirements in California for example
You can establish a legal claim in two ways in the state of California:

  • Earn no less than $1300 in any one quarter of the Base Period, or
  • Earn no less than $900 in your uppermost quarter of earnings during the Base Period plus in the rest of the Base Period earn no less than 25% of the highest quarter earnings.

For instance, if you received $1000 in your highest quarter, the claim would only be legal if your total earnings all through the other three quarters amounted to $250, for a Base Period total of $1,250:

$1000 + (25% x $1000) = $1250 in total Base Period earnings.

So even though you earned $100,000 in your highest quarter, but did not earn as a minimum $25,000 all through the rest of the Base Period, you would not be qualified! Or if you only earned $899.99 in each quarter, you will fail by one penny. That is the rule.

When you file a claim the EDD will send back you a printed copy of the determination of monetary eligibility. Test out cautiously to settle on if your employer(s) reported your earnings properly. You can constantly request a recomputation if the data appears wrong.

EDD will also offer the following information:

  • The beginning and ending date of the claim
  • Weekly Benefit Amount
  • Maximum Benefit Amount

Weekly Benefit Amount

The sum of money to which a claimant may be entitled each week, based on the claimant’s covered wages paid during the base period.

Let’s consider an example from the state Mississippi:

The maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) allowed in Mississippi at this time is $235.00. Your WBA for unemployment insurance benefits depends on the total wages in the highest quarter of your Base Period and by dividing that amount by 26. The minimum WBA in Mississippi is $30.00. To estimate your WBA you must first determine what your wages are for the highest quarter during your Base Period.

To be eligible for benefits, you:

  • Must have worked in no less than two quarters of your base period,
  • Must have earned no less than $780.00 in the highest quarter of your base period, and
  • Must have earned 40 times your WBA in your base period.

The highest amount of benefits that can be paid to you during your Benefit Year is 26 times your WBA, or one-third of your total Base Period wages, whichever is the lesser.

If you file a claim for benefits and it is determined that you do not have enough wages in your base period to be eligible, you may reapply again after the quarter changes, if you are still jobless. The quarters used to decide the base period change every three months, on the first Sunday of January, April, July, and October.

Who can be claimed as a dependent?

If you do not meet the criteria for the maximum weekly benefit rate, you may be entitled to a dependency allowance. Dependant’s allowance is additional money added to a claimant’s weekly benefit amount if the claimant supports a dependent.

If you would like to claim a dependency allowance when you file your claim, you will be inquired to give the social security numbers of your dependent children.

Your dependent child or children must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Under 18 years of age.
  • Under 21 years of age and a full-time student.
  • A mentally or physically handicapped child of any age

You are required to give proof of dependency.

While you are receiving benefits, you must inform DUA (Department of Unemployment Assistance) if there is any change in the number of your dependent children or in your status of providing support. In total, 12 states pay dependency allowance.

For Example:

Total dependency allowance for Connecticut cannot be paid for more than five dependents ($75).California does not pay dependency allowances.

When to File for Unemployment?

Filing for unemployment must be the initial item on your plan when you have been laid-off. It might take a few weeks to collect a check, so the quicker you file, the faster you’ll get paid. A delay in filing will mean a wait in collecting unemployment benefits.

How to Claim Your Benefits?

In order to obtain unemployment compensation, workers must meet the unemployment eligibility requirements for wages earned or duration worked during an established (one year) period of time. Besides, workers must be firm to be unemployed through no fault of their own, so if you were fired or quit you may not be qualified for unemployment compensation.

Confirm with your State Unemployment Office for briefing on what benefits you are entitled to. You may be able to file over the phone. In various states, you can file online for unemployment.

In general, to file a claim you will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Card if you’re not a US citizen
  • Mailing address including zip code
  • Phone number
  • Names, addresses and dates of employment of all your past employers for the last two years

Disqualification from Unemployment

The following conditions may disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits depending on state law:

  • Quit without good cause
  • Fired for misconduct
  • Resigned because of illness (check on disability benefits)
  • Left to get married
  • Self-employed
  • Caught up in a labor dispute
  • Attending school

Check with the Unemployment Office if you have the above or any other special circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions For Eligibility Criteria

Can I collect for voluntary termination of a job?

Yes, if the reason for leaving is justifiable and related to work or, in some circumstances, to domestic issues. Check with your state’s employment security office for clarification.

Will I qualify for unemployment if I was allowed to resign but received a severance package?

If you quit or get fired, then you are not eligible. Only hope is that you explain the situation to unemployment office (after you lose the job) and they consider your case under “good cause” provision.

If I start collecting social security does this stop my unemployment?

Unemployment insurance benefits are not counted under the Social Security annual earnings test and therefore do not affect your receipt of Social Security benefits. However, the unemployment benefit amount of an individual may be reduced by the receipt of a pension or other retirement income, including Social Security and Retirement benefits.

You should contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction.

Are elected officials eligible for unemployment compensation when terminated by a different employer?

The law does not allow using some types of wages to establish claims which include working as an elected official. Hence, may not be eligible to claim the benefit.

Can I file a claim if I already lost a week’s pay from my job?

Yes, because most states pay unemployment compensation benefits based on the amount of earnings for a particular week. However, it all depends upon your weekly benefit amount and, possibly, other factors. File the claim and see.

If I was contracted to work through a company and was let go due to loss of work can I file for unemployment?

Periods of self-employment don’t generally qualify for unemployment insurance claiming, as you’re not paying into the system. The other question likely is, do you qualify based upon your earnings from ex-employment other than the self-employment income? Depending on these factors it will be decided whether you are eligible or not.

Related Tags : dependency allowance, monetary eligibility, unemployment eligibility, weekly benefit amount

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FAQs for Claimants

Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance

What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?

An individual who leaves work voluntarily generally cannot receive UI. Your eligibility in this situation will depend on whether you can demonstrate you had a good reason for quitting, and that the reason was because of your employer. You generally must make a reasonable effort to work with your employer to resolve whatever issues made you consider quitting.

What if I can’t leave my home because I must care for my child during the pandemic or because I have COVID-19?

An individual in any of those situations would be unemployed through no fault of their own and might be eligible for UI benefits. However, to qualify for UI, they would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements. For example, the individual must be able and available for work, and show that they are seeking work from home. Individuals can be considered able and available to work if there is some work that they could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services).
This individual also must prove that they left their job due to their employer. However, there is an exception to the requirement that the reason for leaving is due to the employer. That exception is when an individual quits a job because a licensed and practicing physician deems them unable to perform the work; or when their employer is unable to accommodate the individual’s need to care for a family member who has been verified to be in poor health or to have a disability.

What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed, and I have to stay home with the child?

If an individual quits a job due to day care, that individual is generally considered to have quit the job for a reason that is not due to the employer, and will therefore not be eligible for UI benefits.

What if I have reduced wages (part-time work)? Can I work and receive benefits?

Yes, if your earnings for a particular week are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may be eligible for all or partial benefits for that week. (For this situation, the WBA does not include any dependent allowance.)

Learn more about partial benefits and working part-time.

Am I eligible for unemployment if I am currently receiving income using my vacation days, sick days, or receiving FMLA payments?

Money received from your employer for using your vacation days (under some circumstances), sick days, and FMLA payments, are normally considered wages. This income will impact the amount of benefits you will be eligible for.

What determines if I'm able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work?

To be considered able to work, an individual must be mentally and physically capable of performing a job in an occupation where jobs exist.

To be considered available for work, an individual cannot impose conditions on the acceptance of work if those conditions essentially leave them with no reasonable prospect of work.

To be considered actively seeking work, an individual must reasonably try to return to work. An individual cannot refuse a suitable job offer or they could lose eligibility for benefits.

How do I look for work?

The job search tool makes it easy to look for your next job on If your work search history is requested by IDES, you can use your history to prove your work search activities. 

Am I required to use

Normally, yes. Individuals are required to register with (IJL) to be eligible for unemployment benefits. You will need to register and upload a resume to unless IDES informs you that you fit into one of the narrow exceptions.

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?

The fact that you lost either your side business or a part time job does not make you “unemployed” if you are still working full time or are earning more than your weekly benefit amount (WBA). If you are not employed full time but are still receiving some wages from your employer, you may be eligible to receive benefits if the wages earned from your employer are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA). Since you have no work as an independent contractor, then you have no earnings outside of your wages with your employer to reduce the benefits that you may be eligible for.

What income do I have to report when I certify every two weeks for benefits?

You must report the amount of all income before taxes or any other deductions are taken out. This is called your gross income. For each of the two weeks you are certifying, you must report the gross income that you earned, even if you will not actually receive the money until later.

I am an undocumented individual. Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits?

In general, individuals who are not lawfully permitted to work in the United States are not able and available to work. In addition, wages earned by an individual who is not lawfully permitted to work cannot be used in establishing a weekly benefit amount. Therefore, that individual would not eligible for unemployment benefits.

I have a green card and was recently laid-off due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for benefits?

Individuals with green cards issued by the federal government are generally able and available to work. Therefore, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet all the requirements.

I receive a 1099 for the job(s) I do as an independent contractor. Am I eligible for regular UI?

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.
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. It is 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.

I am an independent contractor, but I am only partially unemployed (i.e., my revenue has taken a significant loss, but I am not completely out of work). Can I receive unemployment benefits?

This depends. IDES must determine if your work as an independent contractor is covered under Illinois law, the amount of wages from covered employment you received in the past, and what you are earning currently. You will receive a weekly benefit amount based on your past covered wages. If your current weekly income does not exceed your weekly benefit amount, not including dependent allowance, 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 that week.

Example of Low-Income Taxpayer Who Must AMEND For $10,200 Unemployment

2020 Unemployment Compensation Exclusion FAQs — Topic A: Eligibility

Q1. Am I eligible to exclude my unemployment compensation? (added April 29, 2021)

A1. It depends. You're eligible to exclude the unemployment compensation if it was received in 2020 and your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $150,000. The modified AGI for purposes of qualifying for this exclusion is your adjusted gross income for 2020 minus the total unemployment compensation you received. This threshold stays the same for all filing statuses, regardless of whether you're married and file a joint tax return (it doesn't double to $300,000).

To determine if you're under the $150,000 threshold and qualify for the exclusion, subtract all of the unemployment compensation reported on Schedule 1, Line 7, from the amount of your AGI reported on Line 11 of Form 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR.

If you're eligible, you should exclude up to $10,200 of your unemployment compensation from income on your 2020 Form 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR. This means up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation is not taxable on your 2020 tax return. Unemployment compensation amounts over $10,200 are still taxable.

If you're married, the exclusion can apply to you and a separate exclusion can apply to your spouse. If you and your spouse file a joint return and your joint modified AGI is less than $150,000, you should exclude up to $10,200 of your unemployment compensation and up to $10,200 of your spouse's unemployment compensation.

If you file Form 1040-NR or file Form 1040 or 1040-SR separately from your spouse, you generally don't report your spouse's unemployment compensation on your tax return. You can't exclude any of your spouse's unemployment compensation that's not reported on your tax return, even if you claim your spouse as a dependent. You're eligible to exclude only up to $10,200 of the unemployment compensation you received in 2020.

If your modified AGI is $150,000 or more, you can't exclude any unemployment compensation from your income. This applies to all filing statuses.

Example: You are single and your AGI amount on Line 11 of your Form 1040 is $170,000. The amount on Schedule 1, Line 7, is $25,000. Subtract the $25,000 amount from $170,000, the result is $145,000. Your modified AGI is $145,000 for the purpose of determining if your modified AGI is less than $150,000 to qualify for this exclusion.

For further assistance in calculating your modified AGI, use the Unemployment Compensation Exclusion Worksheet in the Instructions for Schedule 1 in the 2020 Form 1040 and 1040-SR instructions.

Q2. If I have an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security Number (SSN), am I eligible for the exclusion? (added April 29, 2021)

A2: Yes. Individuals with a valid ITIN are eligible for the exclusion, the same as those with a valid SSN. Their modified AGI must be less than $150,000 regardless of their filing status.

Q3. I'm a non-resident alien who files Form 1040-NR. Am I eligible for the exclusion? (added April 29, 2021)

A3. Yes. You should exclude up to $10,200 of your unemployment compensation in 2020 if your modified AGI is less than $150,000. If you're married, your spouse generally reports their unemployment compensation on their Form 1040-NR and excludes up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation paid to your spouse on that return if their modified AGI is less than $150,000. You can't exclude any of your spouse's unemployment compensation that's not reported on your tax return, even if you claim your spouse as a dependent.

Q4. I'm married and live in a community property state. Am I eligible for the exclusion? (updated July 7, 2021)

A4. Yes. Because you live in a community property state, if you file a Married Filing Separately return, you report half of your unemployment compensation and half of your spouse's unemployment compensation on your tax return and your spouse reports the other half of your unemployment compensation and half of his or her unemployment compensation on his or her tax return. You should exclude up to $10,200 on your tax return if your modified AGI is less than $150,000. Your spouse should exclude up to another $10,200 on his or her tax return if your spouse's modified AGI is less than $150,000. Neither of you should exclude more than the amount of unemployment compensation you report on your Schedule 1, Line 7.

If you file a Married Filing Jointly return, when completing the Unemployment Compensation Exclusion Worksheet – Schedule 1, Line 8, you should report half of your unemployment compensation and half of your spouse's unemployment compensation on line 8 of the worksheet and your spouse reports the other half of your unemployment compensation and half of his or her unemployment compensation on line 9 of the worksheet.  Do not enter more than $10,200 on either line 8 or line 9 of the worksheet.  If your joint modified AGI is less than $150,000, you and your spouse can exclude up to $10,200 each. Do not exclude more than the amount of unemployment compensation you report on your Schedule 1, Line 7.

If you already filed your return and entered a smaller exclusion amount on Schedule 1, line 8 than you are entitled to, see Do I need to file an amended return if I live in a community property state and did not enter the correct exclusion amount on Schedule 1, line 8?

Q5. Am I eligible for the exclusion if I live in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands? (added June 25, 2021)

A5. Residents of U.S. territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) who receive unemployment compensation payments that are otherwise subject to U.S. income tax, may be eligible to exclude up to $10,200 per person of unemployment compensation from U.S. income tax for 2020.

Eligible residents must have modified adjusted income of less than $150,000 to exclude up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation from their 2020 federal income tax return. In the case of taxpayers that are married filing jointly, the maximum exclusion would be $10,200 for each spouse for a maximum of $20,400.  You may not exclude more than the amount of unemployment compensation you (and your spouse if filing jointly) actually received.  

U.S. territory residents with questions relating to the taxation of COVID-related unemployment compensation by the territory should contact their territory tax department.  More information is also available in News Release IR-2021-81, IRS reminds U.S. territory residents about U.S. income tax rules relating to pandemic unemployment compensation. 


On claiming unemployment dependents

Newly unemployed due to coronavirus? Here’s a guide on how to apply for benefits

A record number of Ohioans are filing for unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a lot of people who are filing for the first time based on expanded eligibility due to the pandemic.

The state’s Department of Job and Family Services has expanded its hours and added 1,000 staff members to take calls.

But there are still long waiting times to get through on the phone and the chat function is often busy.

We developed these frequently asked questions after reading through the state’s FAQ, with additional help from the experts at the state’s unemployment offices. Start by reading the state’s FAQ at

Q: When should you apply?

A: Within the week you are first furloughed or laid off. Your claim begins on Sunday.

Q: Is there a waiting period?

A: No. That is waived for COVID-19.

Q: How do you apply?

A: It is best to apply online at 24 hours a day or call 877-644-6562 (Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m). You cannot currently apply in person.

Q: I am self-employed or part of the gig economy. When can I apply?

A: By the end of next week, the online application process should be available on a separate site to be announced. Payments won’t be available until mid-May for the expanded eligibility for 1099 tax filers and others previously ineligible for unemployment.

Q: Is there a difference between the initial claim and the weekly claim?

A: Yes. You must first apply during the first week when you are unemployed. After you establish the initial claim, you file your weekly claims at the end of each week you are unemployed to get paid. The week isn’t over until Saturday at midnight, so you will file on Sunday.

Q: My company is furloughing me for a certain amount of time. Do I just file a weekly claim every week while I am furloughed? If I don’t know what my anticipated date of return is, what do I put down when asked?

A: You will need to open an application first, then file for each week you are unemployed. If you are unemployed due to COVID-19, your work search is waived and there is no need for you to provide the anticipated return to work date.

Q: My company is furloughing me periodically. Will I use the same original claim/account or do I have to re-apply each time?

A: When you first file for unemployment, your claim is good for 52 weeks from Sunday of the week you filed your claim. If you return to work and then are furloughed, you will simply reopen the existing claim and then file your weekly claims each Sunday. If it is time for a new initial claim, the system will require you to file a new claim.

Q: If you are working carryout/fewer hours, can you apply?

A: Individuals who are partially unemployed due to lack of work may be eligible for benefits. Any earnings from employment during the week claimed may reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings equal to or less than 20 percent of the claimant’s weekly benefit amount will not reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings over 20 percent of the weekly benefit amount will reduce the benefit payment dollar for dollar. Earnings equal to or over the benefit amount will result in no benefits for that week.

Q: With the answer to that last question in mind, if I am furloughed or have fewer hours, what happens if I take furlough days as individual days (not a full week) or if I am called back within a week after some furlough days. Can I claim a partial week of unemployment (days) and how will my claim be affected?

A: Yes, you can claim a partial week, but if you earn more than your weekly benefit amount, you will not get unemployment for that week. If you take all your furloughed days in the same week, you are more likely to receive unemployment benefits.

Q: What is the mass layoff number that will allow my claim to be expedited ?

A: 2000180.

Q: What information do I need for my application?

A: Your Social Security number and driver’s license number. Your name, address, telephone number and email address. The name, address, phone number and dates of your employment of your employer. Your dependent and spouse’s name, social security number and date of birth. If you are doing direct deposit, you’ll need your bank account and routing numbers.

Q: What information should I save for use later?

A: Be sure to write down your PIN number.

Q: What if you are filing online and need your PIN reset?

A: Call 866-962-4064 or try the "chat" function, though both seem to be difficult to get through.

Q: How will I know if I filed my application correctly?

A: You will get a message that says, "You have successfully filed your claim" and a confirmation number. Print this or save a screenshot as we did not get any type of email confirmation.

Q: What happens after this?

A: You will receive a new or additional claim instruction sheet that describes what you need to do next. You can request to be notified by email or regular mail. (Email will be quicker.)

Q: How soon will I get any correspondence?

A: The state this week is catching up on correspondence, but there is still a delay. State officials said this week they have turned off the text option to speed up their processes, but did not have a way to turn off an initial text message inviting you to join.

Look on your unemployment account for correspondence. It will come quicker than email, but there may be correspondence that shows up, but is not yet available. Correspondence from April 9 and before should be available.

Any red-colored letter correspondence requires extra documentation or action. You will not get any type of confirmation after you complete this that it was accepted.

Q: How soon will I get my unemployment payments?

A: The state says typically, it takes 21 days to process a claim and receive your first payment, however the volume is causing it to take longer in some cases. Some payments are coming quicker.

Q: How much will I get?

A: Half your previous wages up to a set maximum. Weekly unemployment is capped at $480 with no dependents, depending upon your salary, and can be higher with dependents.

You can look at page 19 of the Worker’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance at for help in determining your claim amount. Another chart can be found here:

Q: If I have dependents to claim, how do I claim them?

A: When you file your initial application you will be asked to provide your dependent information. To qualify, the dependent must be considered a natural child, stepchild or adopted child or a dependent spouse, who lives with you and you provide at least half their support in the last 90 days. Only one spouse can claim the dependent(s) for unemployment benefits. Children are considered dependent if the child is 17 or under, or over 17 with physical and mental disabilities.

Q: What about the extra $600 in unemployment as part of the stimulus funds?

A: This will automatically be added to your payment when it becomes available. Currently, this is only available for those receiving benefits between March 29 through July 31, but Congress has been discussing extending this. On Monday, the state said it hopes to begin issuing the $600 payments by the end of the week. If you select to have taxes taken out, your amount will be less than $600.

Q: How long can you receive benefits?

A: You will have 52 weeks to withdraw between 20 to 26 weeks of unemployment at the full amount. If you have partial benefits claimed during any week, it may be more than 20 to 26 weeks.

Q: Am I required to seek other employment?

A: No. This isn’t currently being required.

Q: Am I required to participate in Unemployment Compensation Reemployment Service (UCRS) or Reemployment and Eligibility Service (UCRS)?

A: No. Both programs are suspended.

Q: What do I do if my employers’ payroll week does not match the state Sunday-Saturday?

A: The week of unemployment is Sunday to Saturday no matter when your regular work week is. You must report your last day worked and any earnings for the week on the Sunday to Saturday schedule. If you last worked on a Sunday, you need to calculate the number of hours worked for that day and multiply that by your hourly wage. That will be the earnings you will need to report. The 20 percent exemption will apply to any week they have earnings. Reminder: You should report the earnings in the weeks you worked not when you were paid by your employer.

Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or and see all her stories at

What are the rules for claiming dependents when filing taxes?

Unemployment insurance is a statewide government program in Illinois. It gives money to people who are temporarily out of work. It is run by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

You have to meet certain requirements to get money from the program. These requirements have changed due to Covid. It is now easier to qualify.

Learn more by watching this video from IDES:

How do I apply for UI?

The best way to apply is online at the IDES website. You may also call (800) 244-5631. But there are long wait times on the phone.

If you apply online, you must use a desktop computer, a laptop, or a tablet. You cannot use a smartphone.

You cannot apply in person. IDES offices are only open for limited purposes due to Covid.

What information do I need to apply for UI?

In order to apply for UI, you should have the following information on hand:

  • 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, and
  • Your dependent’s name, social security number, and date of birth if you are claiming a dependent child or spouse.

If you do not have a State ID or driver’s license, you will need another form of ID. It must not be expired. It must show your name, address, and date of birth.

When should I apply for UI?

You should apply as soon as possible. Ideally, apply within the first week of your unemployment.

The application is closed every day between 8-10pm.

What if I messed up my UI application?

You can correct your application or claim information by calling the IDES at (800) 244-5631.

You may have trouble reaching the IDES by phone. The busiest call times are between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. You can also use the online IDES Contact Form.

Who qualifies for unemployment insurance (UI)?

To qualify for unemployment insurance, you must be unemployed, and it must not be your fault. For example, you do not qualify if you quit because you did not like the work that you were doing. Or if you were fired because of misconduct.

You must also have made a certain amount of money recently. The period of time IDES looks at for your income is your “base period.”  To see if you qualify:

  1. Look at the date you are planning to make your claim. 
  2. Look at the date of the upcoming Sunday of that week. 
    • If that date is before March 31st, 2021, your “base period” is October 1st, 2019 to September 30th, 2020.
    • If that date is between April 1st, 2021 and June 30, 2021, your “base period” is January 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020.
    • If that date is between July 1st, 2021 and September 30, 2021, your "base period" is April 1st, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
    • If that date is between October 1st, 2021 and December 31st, 2021, your "base period" is July 1st, 2020 to June 30th, 2021.
  3. Break up your “base period” into 3-month sections, starting on the first day. Each section is called a “quarter.” 
  4. Add up the total amount of wages for each quarter and write those numbers down.
  5. Find the quarter with the highest amount of wages. Ignore that amount and add the total amount you made in the other 3 quarters. The amount must be $440 or more, not including*:
    • Agricultural work for an employer that employs less than 10 people,
    • Domestic work for an employer that pays less than $1,000 a quarter for those services,
    • Railroad work,
    • Work for another family member,
    • Work as a salesman paid by commission outside of a permanent retail business, or
    • Government-funded work-relief or work training.
  6. Now add up the wages you made during your entire “base period” (all four quarters). The total must be $1,600 or more, with the same exclusions above.

Learn more about how to qualify for and calculate unemployment benefits.

*Not a full list. IDES will tell you if you qualify after you apply.

Why was I denied unemployment benefits?

Even if you meet the minimum requirements, you may be disqualified from receiving benefits for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Quitting your job without good cause,
  • Being fired for misconduct,
  • Not applying for or accepting a suitable job offer,
  • Receiving unemployment benefits from another state,
  • Receiving pension payments for any week you are claiming benefits, and
  • Not legally working in the U.S.

For a complete list of disqualifications, see pages 5-6 of the IDES Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook.

I was hired for a new job but couldn’t start because of COVID. Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

You may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if:

  • You were scheduled to start work but it was canceled because of Covid-19, or
  • You are unable to reach your job because of Covid-19.

You will have to apply for regular unemployment benefits and be denied first before applying for PUA. Please see the IDES website for more information about applying for PUA.

Do immigrants qualify for unemployment benefits?

You can apply for unemployment benefits if you are a green card holder, a DACA recipient, or an asylum grantee. To receive benefits, you must have work authorization now and during your “base period.” This will not affect your immigration status. 

Unemployment benefits are considered “earned” benefits. They will not make you a “public charge,” unlike some public benefits, like SNAP.

Not all workers are covered. Certain agricultural workers and domestic workers cannot receive unemployment benefits in Illinois. Other workers, such as independent contractors or freelancers, might be eligible for benefits under the PUA program.

If you have specific questions about your immigration status, use Get Legal Help to find a lawyer.

How much money do you get?

The amount of money you get each week depends on how much you earned in your “base period” (see above). To find how much you will receive weekly:

  1. Add up the total wages for each quarter in your “base period,”
  2. Find the 2 quarters with the highest wages and add them together,
  3. Multiply this amount by 0.47, and 
  4. Divide this amount by26.

The result is your weekly benefit amount. The amount will be higher if you have a dependent spouse or children. You cannot claim both your spouse and children. 

The maximum weekly benefit amount is:

  • $484 with no dependents
  • $577 with a dependent spouse
  • $669 with a dependent child or children

See this table of benefit calculations.

Also, the Federal government is giving $300 extra. You are eligible for this additional $300, if you:

  • Are unemployed due to Covid-19,
  • Are receiving benefits through a debit card or direct deposit, and
  • Are receiving at least a total amount of $100 per week in unemployment compensation.

This extra money lasts through Monday, September 6th, 2021. IDES lists this date as Saturday, September 4th, 2021 because they calculate weeks from Saturday to Saturday.

Learn more about this extra amount.

Can creditors garnish my unemployment benefits?

No. Public or government benefits are protected from creditors. This includes unemployment benefits.

Will child support be deducted from my unemployment benefits?

If you file for unemployment benefits, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS) can have your current child support payments deducted from those benefits. Child support can only be deducted if the custodial parent has a child support case.

Past due child support can be deducted from your benefits if the IDES receives a court order to withhold income. If you entered into an agreement to pay past due child support, it may be enforced by the IDHFS. They will send the original agreement to the IDES and request the payments be deducted. The agreement must clearly state:

  • The amount to be deducted,
  • The recipient of the payments,
  • When the deductions are to be made, and 
  • Why you are required to make payments.

Learn more about paying child support when you are unemployed and changing child support payments.

How do I certify for benefits? What if I miss my certification date?

After filing your claim you will receive a Finding. You will be assigned a certification day on either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. You must certify on the day listed on your Finding. If you miss your certification day, you can certify on Thursday or Friday of that week. You must certify every two weeks. You can do this online or by calling Tele-Serve at (312) 338-4337.

Late certifications will not be accepted. Failure to certify on your assigned day (or the Thursday or Friday of that week) could cause denial of benefits or a delay in processing your benefits.

Learn more about certifying for benefits.

My payment was delayed or I did not receive it at all. Why is this happening?

The IDES sends a debit card a few days after your application is processed. However, it can take a few weeks for the IDES to determine your benefits. This may be why you received a debit card with a $0 balance. You can also set up your bank account to receive direct deposit by logging into your account on the IDES website.

How long does unemployment insurance last?

Unemployment lasts for 26 weeks (6 months).

Can my employer fight my claim?

Yes. Employers must pay IDES for every claim that is made by their employees. So they have the right to fight a claim if they don’t think it is proper.

When do unemployment benefits start?

Unemployment benefits start the Sunday before you file. This means that as long as you are able to file by Saturday, you will not miss out on the week of benefits.

You must file a benefits claim by the end of the first week in which you are unemployed. If you file later and do not request backdating, your claim will start the week it was filed.

If you file after your first week of being unemployed but within a year, you can request the IDES backdate your claim. Claims can be backdated if you can show:

  • You were unaware of your rights to benefits,
  • Your employer or the IDES did not fulfill their legal responsibilities,
  • Your employer told you not to file a claim for benefits, or
  • There were other circumstances outside your control.

You must also show that you filed your claim within 14 days after your reason for not filing ended.

If you did not file your claim on time because of issues with the IDES website, ask a rep about backdating your claim by calling (800) 244-5631.

Do I need to look for work while I get unemployment?

Generally yes. You must register with and document your efforts to find work. 

However, if you were temporarily laid off because of coronavirus (Covid-19), you do not need to do this. You just need to be ready to return to your job when it reopens.

What if I left work to watch my child during the coronavirus pandemic?

You might still qualify. IDES has said they will consider applications from people in this situation.

If you are stuck at home because you were diagnosed with Covid-19, you are unemployed through no fault of your own. But you still need to meet all other requirements for benefits. This includes:

  • Being able and available for work,
  • Registering with the state employment service, and
  • Actively seeking work from home. 

You are considered able and available for work if there is some work that you can perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services), and there is a labor market for that work.

Normally, if you leave work to address childcare needs it would be considered voluntary. This would disqualify you from receiving benefits. But the statewide school closure in response to the pandemic creates a unique situation. If your children cannot stay home alone and you do not have an alternative, you may be unemployed through no fault of your own. You still need to meet all other requirements for benefits.

What if I left work because I am concerned over the coronavirus?

Normally you would not qualify if you quit your job voluntarily. But IDES considers the facts of each case, so you may qualify because of the unique coronavirus situation. 

It will depend on whether you had a good reason for quitting. The reason must be something the employer did.

What if, because of my age or health condition, I am more prone to being affected by the Covid-19? Do I still have to go to work?

It is unclear. If you have an underlying condition that may seriously compromise your health, you may stay home. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allows you to refuse to go to work and file a complaint if you believe you are in imminent danger. This means, if “a danger exists which can reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm.” This may include co-workers testing positive for Covid-19. This is a high standard, and you may still lose your job.

If I am an essential worker, can I apply for unemployment benefits because of the risk of COVID to me and my family? Can I be fired for not coming to work?

If you are still working full-time, you will not be eligible for UI. If your employment is affected by the pandemic, you may qualify for PUA.

As an at-will employee, you can be fired for any reason with a few exceptions. You cannot be fired for engaging in a protected activity, such as whistleblowing, or if you have legitimate health concerns. You may still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

If your employer will not let you miss work during the pandemic, you may refuse to return to work. The IDES website has additional information about refusing to return to work. You must show you have a good reason for refusing a suitable work offer. The IDES will consider:

  • The degree of risk involved to your health, safety, and morals,
  • Your physical fitness and prior training,
  • Your experience and prior earnings,
  • The length of unemployment and work prospects in your usual occupation, and 
  • The distance of the available work from your residence.

Is my employer required to make us wear masks?

This depends on your employer and the industry in which you work. Face masks covering your nose and mouth are required in any public place where you are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others. It is recommended that you check with your employer about their safety policy. 

See our blog post on wearing a mask for more information.

Could I qualify for unemployment benefits if I am a gig worker or an independent contractor? 

Yes. Even if your employer considers you a contractor, or you are a sole proprietor or 1099 employee, you should file. The existing Illinois program covers some of these workers. The new federal PUA program covers the ones that the Illinois program does not.

IDES has a portal for people to apply for help under the new law. You must first apply under the old law and be denied before you can apply under the new law. You can also visit the IDES website to learn more about PUA before applying. It describes who is eligible for PUA, how to file, and how to avoid common application mistakes.

If you are in the Illinois arts community, Lawyers for the Creative Arts might be able to give you free legal help. You can apply on their website. They help people no matter if they are a W-2 employee, 1099, freelancer, or gig economy worker.

Will collecting unemployment affect my Social Security benefits?


If I live in Illinois but commute to work to a different state, where do I file for unemployment?

File in the state where you pay state income taxes.

Do I have to be completely out of work to qualify for unemployment benefits?

No. You can still qualify even if:

  • You still work part time,
  • Your hours were reduced, or
  • You were working two jobs and now are only working one.

Self-employment income does not count towards calculating your benefits. Benefits are based on your current and past income. See How much money do you get? and learn more about receiving unemployment benefits when you work a part time or temp job.

Do I stop receiving unemployment insurance benefits if I am hired for a short-term job?

It depends on your wages.

If your gross wages are less than your weekly benefit amount, you may still be eligible to get a full or partial benefit payment.

If your gross wages are more than your weekly benefit amount, you will not be eligible for a benefit payment.

You must notify IDES as soon as you are hired for any job, even if it is short-term. If you plan to continue to use your unemployment insurance benefits, you should continue to certify your income. 

If you stop working again, you need to notify the change to IDES. You will go back to getting the full weekly benefit amount.

Can I appeal the decision if I am denied unemployment benefits?

You have the right to appeal any determination that denies you benefits. You will receive a written notice of appeal and waiver recoupment if you received benefits, but were then ineligible. You can learn more about how to appeal an IDES unemployment decision on our website.

How do I tell IDES I got a job and don’t need unemployment benefits anymore?

Notify IDES Claimant Services as soon as possible, but not later than 14 days after the day you were supposed to certify. Failure to report your return to work could lead to penalties and fraud charges.

To report your return to work, call the IDES New Hire Unit at (888) 776-7708.

What other resources are available if I do not qualify for benefits?

If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits, there are a few other options for relief.

The Chicago Restaurant Worker Relief Fund was created to help Chicago restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers. This fund will provide emergency relief grants based on need to workers that lost wages or employment due to the shutdown for the pandemic. Grants will be awarded to applicants who are eligible. You can apply here.

Learn more about housing and money and debt during the pandemic.


Now discussing:

On that day, it was not destined not to happen. The fat man died first, even before the boat did land. As the simplest target, he was stuffed with arrows. Before his death, Jrigal managed to use some nightmarish magic, emitting an orange branchy lightning from his fingers, and took the lives of several aborigines with him, but this did.

Not save him.

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