Illinois Workers' Compensation article image
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 Application Process

Each state has its own legal process for handling workers’ comp claims. Unless you work for the federal government, you’ll follow the steps below to apply for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, our interactive chart shows how Illinois workers’ compensation program numbers changed from 2014-2018.

How to Apply for Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits

State law requires workers’ compensation insurance coverage for all employees starting their first day at work. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, follow these steps to apply for benefits:

  1. Get medical care immediately, then report your workplace injury to your employer. You can do this verbally, but written reports are better (to protect your rights). Include the date, time and location of your workplace accident, along with any witnesses. In addition, tell any doctor who treats you that your injury’s work-related. You may lose your right to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits unless you notify your employer within 45 days.
  2. Your employer must then notify their insurance provider about your injury. This ensures you don’t have to pay injury-related medical bills out of your own pocket.
  3. If your injury makes you miss four or more workdays, your employer must notify the IWCC within one month. Until this happens, Illinois workers’ compensation benefits only cover medical expenses related to your injury.
  4. Your employer must start paying you Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments after four missed work shifts. Otherwise, your supervisor must explain to you in writing why your claim got denied. Alternatively, your employer or their insurer may ask for additional information needed to approve your claim within 14 days.
  5. If your claim’s denied, contact your employer or the insurer to resolve your dispute. If that isn’t helpful, you can file your workers’ comp claim directly with the IWCC.
  6. The IWCC then assigns an arbitrator to help resolve your dispute within 90 days. Arbitrators settle about 4 in 5 workers’ compensation appeals annually. See the IWCC’s dispute resolution flow chart here.

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

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2014-2018

You can find workers’ compensation program data for most states in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report. It lists total claims, how many people missed work, received job restrictions or changed positions, etc. It also breaks down claim data for individual job sectors in each state. Below, our interactive chart highlights how Illinois workers’ compensation program numbers changed from 2014-2018.

In recent years, service-industry jobs quickly outpaced most other U.S. employment sectors. As a result, service-industry workers also file most workers’ comp claims each year. Over this five-year period, 62% of this state’s claims came from service-industry employees. That’s not surprising, since these jobs are often physically demanding. But from 2014-2015, service-industry claims rose 8.2%. Only about half the injuries reported each year qualified for lost wage payments. The yellow line in our chart above shows who qualified for lost wage payments, which may include:

  • TTD – Equals 2/3 your average weekly paycheck amount until you either start working again or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) – Partial wages paid for light duty work until you fully recover from your injury.
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) or Permanent Total Disability (PDD) – You can only receive these in rare situations. For example: You lose one or more body parts in a workplace accident, partial or full paralysis, go blind/deaf, etc. The IWCC won’t pay either PPD or PDD benefits until after you reach your MMI.

Related: Idaho Workers’ Compensation Benefits Process

According to the IWCC, only 1 in every 3 Illinois workers’ compensation claims each year qualifies for lost wage payments. That means 2/3 of injured workers go straight back to work with no time off to recover from their accidents. If your employer’s insurance provider calls you and asks for a recorded statement, do not answer their questions! They’re looking for any reason to deny you Illinois workers’ compensation or pay less than your injury deserves. Preexisting health issues are the #1 reason for denied workers’ comp claims. If you don’t immediately receive all benefits you think you deserve, consult a workers’ comp lawyer for free.

These lawyers give contingency-based legal assistance, which costs you $0 unless your case wins. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free workers’ compensation benefits evaluation online now!

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.