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Illinois workers' compensation claims can be straightforward when you understand the process. But if you miss a step, you're not going to get what you need.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits Process

Important: We updated this article in April 2023 so all the information below is current and correct. If you were hurt or got sick on the job in the Prairie State, here’s the information you need to get the Illinois workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to.

Am I Eligible for Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Illinois state law requires workers’ compensation insurance coverage for all employees beginning on their first day at work. To qualify for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, you must prove your injury or illness is work-related.

Read more about how to qualify.

Pro Tip: Federal employees in Illinois are exempt from this coverage. Get the details for filing a federal workers’ comp claim.

How Do I File an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If your workplace injury or illness requires emergency or urgent care, seek medical treatment immediately.

Pro Tip: Tell the doctor your injury or illness is work-related and keep your receipts and bills.

While every case is different, the process usually works like this:

  1. Inform your employer about your injury or illness verbally or in writing. Written reports are better (to protect your rights). Include the date, time and location of your injury or illness, and the names of any witnesses. Pro Tip: You may lose your right to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits unless you notify your employer within 45 days.
  2. Make sure your employer notifies both their insurer and the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC). This begins the workplace accident claims process so you don’t have to pay injury-related medical bills out of your own pocket. The insurer or your employer may ask for additional information needed to approve your claim within 14 days. Additionally, your employer must notify the IWCC within 30 days or your Illinois workers’ compensation benefits only cover medical expenses related to your injury or illness.
  3. Know your rights if you miss four or more days of work. Your employer must start paying you temporary total disability payments after four missed work shifts or explain to you in writing why your claim was denied.
  4. Contact either your employer or the insurer if your claim’s denied. If you can’t get it resolved, file your workers’ comp claim directly with the IWCC. The IWCC assigns an arbitrator to help resolve your dispute within 90 days. The IWCC’s dispute resolution flow chart lays out the process. Pro Tip: We strongly recommend hiring an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer to help you appeal.

For more about the Illinois workers’ compensation program, read the IWCC Handbook.

What Else Should I know About Illinois Workers’ Compensation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. The total number of recordable cases in the Prairie State decreased slightly during COVID-19, dropping from 136,400 in 2018 to 124,800 in 2021. Bucking that trend, service-providing sector claims increased from 83,900 in 2018 to 85,100 in 2020 before hitting 79,600 in 2021. The total number of employees missing work, transferring jobs or receiving restrictions spiked during the same period, rising from 74,000 at the start to a high of 87,300 in 2020 before sliding to 77,400 in 2021.

When you’re dealing with a work-related illness or injury, navigating the Illinois workers’ compensation system can make the discomfort and frustration even worse. You may want to hire an experienced attorney to help you get maximum benefits faster. Your lawyer can negotiate with insurers, gather medical evidence to support your claim, and represent you at hearings.

Pro Tip: Workers’ comp attorneys don’t charge unless you win benefits. You pay a reasonable, one-time fee only if your case is successful. See how a free workers’ comp evaluation works.

Want free expert claim help while you’re at home? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:

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Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: