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Filing For Unemployment Insurance In Illinois As A Business Owner Or Self-Employed Individual

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The CARES Act, Public Law 116-46, signed into law 03/27/2020, see https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/748, expanded unemployment benefits to include business owners and self-employed individuals. This means that you, as an owner or self employed individual with lost income as a result of Coronavirus shutdowns, can apply for Illinois unemployment insurance, in the same way as employees of firms covered by the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act can. This article explains how:
a. You can immediately file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security as a sole proprietor under your Social Security Number as employer and employee, or as a business owner, and not just employee, using the company’s IDES number as employer and your social security number as employee, since the CARES Act made you eligible for unemployment compensation as a self-employed individual or as a business owner. This only gives a maximum of about $1,070 per week, but that’s better than chicken feed.
b. The place to file is detailed on the Illinois Department of Employment Security website. You need to either file online or call.  You should register with their Employment Service and also check to make sure you have proof you are eligible for unemployment insurance before applying for benefits. The Employment Service registration link is at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Employment_Registration_Requirement.aspx .
c. The information needed to fill in the form to file for unemployment online or by phone is at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Necessary_Information.aspx.
d. The following extract from the benefits handbook (available as pdf on their site at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/IDES%20Forms%20and%20Publications/CLI105L.pdf) shows what you need to be eligible for benefits:
“Unemployment insurance, like other forms of insurance, requires that certain eligibility conditions be met before your claim can be paid. These conditions are designed to determine that you have been recently employed and are now unemployed through no fault of your own. You are eligible for benefits only for weeks in which you meet all of the eligibility conditions and are not subject to disqualification.
GENERAL ELIGIBILITY
1. You are unemployed through no fault of your own.
2. You were paid $1,600 or more in wages during your base period for insured work (See page 14.)
3. You were paid at least $440 of your base period wages at any time during the base period outside the calendar quarter in which your wages were highest.
4. You are registered for work with IDES. (See page 8.)
WEEKLY ELIGIBILITY
1. You filed your claim (certified) for the week as scheduled using the automated Tele-Serve system, via the Internet or as otherwise directed by IDES staff.
2. You have served one “waiting week.” The “waiting week” is a qualifying period required by law. Benefits are not paid for this week. It is usually the first week for which you file your claim
3. During the week, you were able to work, available for work and actively looking for work. (See pages 7 & 8.)”
e. The online application page is at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/aboutides/Pages/10%20Things%20You%20Should%20Know.aspx, the “File Your Claim” link shows up once you certify you have read about online payments.
f. Once you get benefits, you need to certify your availability for work and that you are actively seeking work (i.e., still unemployed) to continue receiving benefits. The weekly certification page (you just need to certify that you are available for and actively seeking work) is at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Certify_Weekly_Benefits.aspx
Note that the CARES Act inclusion of self-employed is new, so the fact you are your own employer means you need to list yourself there as well as as applicant, they haven’t updated their forms.
The system is also very busy, so you may have to take several times to file or many times to call in.
Good luck, and godspeed!

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