Late last week, in the final deal on the Bush-era tax cuts, Congress finally approved a 13-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits. It's a giant relief for the estimated 241,000 workers in Illinois who were scheduled to exhaust their benefits by February (and everyone else who could lose his or her job at any moment through no fault of their own.)
Funding for the programs had expired on November 30, however, which means insurance had already lapsed for thousands of claimants who hit their current tier's limit sometime in December. The good news is that those checks will be paid out retroactively as part of the package; according to a news bulletin (PDF), the Illinois Department of Employment Security will release those payments "after certification for the week of December 11." (Wisconsin began processing its claims over the weekend.) In the meantime, IDES spokesperson Greg Rivara told the Rockford Register-Star that eligible workers should "certify for benefits through the state telephone or Internet service to smooth the payment process." That information is available here.
UPDATE (10:31 a.m.): Greg Rivara from IDES emails to inform PI that Illinois began processing payments on Friday night, December 17.