Federal Unemployment Insurance Enhancements

This page will be updated continuously to reflect the most recent information. This page was last updated on February 22, 2021.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established new federal unemployment insurance (UI) enhancements to support Illinois workers who lose their job or are furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The December 2020 COVID-19 relief law further extended or modified several of these key provisions.

Important Note: In Illinois, workers traditionally have access to up to 26 weeks of UI benefits. The State of Illinois calculates benefit levels, and the maximum benefit available is dependent on several factors, including your marital status and if you have children. Please also note that your UI benefits are based on where you work, not where you live. For Illinoisans to qualify for Illinois UI benefits, they must have worked in the state within the last 18 months.

FAQ on Current, Federal UI Enhancements

Who is eligible for the enhanced unemployment insurance under the CARES Act?
In addition to those workers who qualified for UI benefits prior to COVID-19, other individuals who are laid off or furloughed may be eligible for benefits as a result of the laws noted above. The CARES Act expanded UI eligibility to self-employed workers and independent contractors, such as those employed within the “gig economy,” and those with a traditionally insufficient earnings history.

How much will I receive from unemployment insurance?
Each state has its own calculation for UI benefits. In Illinois specifically, the maximum benefit available is dependent on several factors, including your earnings history, your marital status and if you have children. Below is a breakdown of the maximum benefit available to Illinois workers, though it is important to note that your UI benefits may fall below this topline threshold:

Worker Status

Maximum UI Benefit

Single w/o Children


Married w/o Children


Married w/ Children


As a result of the December 2020 COVID-19 relief law, individuals who receive UI benefits between December 31, 2020 and March 14, 2021 will receive an additional $300 per week on top of their normal State-level UI benefits.

I lost my job months ago. Am I still eligible?
Yes, you may still be able to qualify for back payment of UI benefits starting on, or after, January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020 if you lost your job as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I haven’t lost my job, but my hours have been significantly reduced. Can I still receive unemployment insurance?
Yes. In Illinois, you are eligible for UI if you are out of work or are no longer working full time because full time work is not available. 

How do I apply for unemployment insurance?
Illinoisans can file for unemployment insurance with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) at www.ides.illinois.gov. IDES also has a series of FAQ pages that can be accessed here.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call IDES’s TTY service – Illinois Relay – at 1-866-488-4016.

What if I’ve already exhausted my 26 weeks of Illinois unemployment insurance benefits?
The CARES Act provided federal funding for an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits for those participating in a traditional state program who have exhausted their benefits, and the recent COVID-relief law provided funding for an additional 11 weeks. That means if you work in Illinois, you now have access to up to 50 weeks of UI benefits.

Will my unemployment insurance benefit be taxed?
Yes, UI payments are considered taxable for Federal income tax purposes.