Written by attorney Agnes Jury

Illinois Unemployment Benefits Procedure Basics

ProcedureLevels of Adjudication

Administrative Level

Claims Adjudicator's Investigation

Referee's hearing

Board of Review Appeal

Circuit Court

Appellate Court

Claims Adjudicator's Investigation

The claims adjudicator conducts an investigation of any claim on which there is a question raised by an employer's protest, a claimant's application or otherwise.

820 ILCS 405/702.

The investigation is done at a local UI office and claimants usually appear pro se.

Any party adversely affected by the claims adjudicator's decision can request reconsideration or review of that determination and must do so within 30 days ofissuanceof said determination.

IDES's practice is that when a party files an appeal, the claims adjudicator's decision is first reconsidered in the local office. If the reconsidered determination does not change the result, the party's original request for reconsideration and review is treated as an appeal to the appeals division where claims are heard by referees.

Referee’s Hearing

The referee's hearing is the most important level of adjudication because it is usually the only hearing.

IDES must give clear notice of issues to be heard at hearings and of the work search requirements that claimants must meet to remain eligible for benefits

Referees must provide "fair hearings" which, among other things, means the referee cannot "switch issues" from those identified on the notice of hearing.

A referee must provide not only a full and impartial hearing but also, at least in the case of a pro se claimant, the referee must make a full inquiry of the relevant facts and issues and must consider uncontroverted evidence.

A party may only appear in-person upon request "for good cause shown". "Good cause" is not defined in the amended regulations. Thus, a claimant who wishes to appear in person should submit that request in writing to the Referee indicated on the Notice of Hearing.

A party appearing by phone must provide copies of documents it intends to introduce at the hearing to both the referee and the opposing party before the date of the hearing.

The regulations provide for very limited grounds for obtaining continuances and referees generally follow the regulations closely. A continuance is only allowed due to a conflict in the schedule of an attorney for a party if the party "cannot reasonably find a substitute counsel."

Appeal to Board of Review

The claimant or employer has 30 days, from theissuanceof Referee’s decision, to appeal to the Board of Review.

The Board usually considers only the record from the referee's hearing and any written arguments, even though it has discretion to rehear the evidence.

But parties may submit additional evidence provided they request it within 20 days of filing an appeal and show good cause as to why the evidence was not presented at the referee's hearing.

The Board must supply a transcript of the referee's decision, if requested, within 35 days. But it will charge the requesting party for the costs of reproduction.

The Board must render its decision within 120 days of the filing of the appeal (or 150 days if a party gets additional time to file written arguments or additional evidence

The Board may uphold or reverse the decision of the referee or may remand remand the case, in whole or in part, to a referee or claims adjudicator, and, in such event, shall state the questions requiring further consideration and give such other instructions as may be necessary.

Administrative Review Actions

Circuit Court

The Board's decision can only be challenged by filing suit under the Administrative Review Act ("ARA") in the appropriate circuit court.

Claim must be filed in circuit court within 35 days of Board'smailingthe decision (or of the Board's issuance of a right to sue letter, or the 14th day after a request for right to sue letter to which the Board does not respond).

A court generally reviews the Board's, not the referee's decision.

A reviewing court may not conduct a new evidentiary hearing. Rather, it must uphold the Board's factual findings unless they are contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Even as to pure questions of fact, however, "[w]here a conclusion opposite to the agency's is 'clearly evident' from the evidence, a court must overturn the agency's factual finding."

Moreover, a reviewing court is "not bound by the Board's determinations of questions of law." And "the legal effect of undisputed facts" is a question of law.

The Illinois Supreme Court has, in recent years, developed an "intermediate" standard of review for "mixed questions of law and fact," meaning questions "'involv[ing] an examination of the legal effect of a given set of facts.'" Under this standard, the reviewing court determines whether a decision is "clearly erroneous," meaning that it leaves the court with a "'definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed" and the Board’s decision should be reversed.

Appellate Court

To appeal from the circuit court, a notice of appeal must be filed in circuit court no later than 30 days from Circuit Court's decision.

Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 303.

Legal Assistance Foundation may be contacted regarding an appeal to the Appellate court.

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