In many cases, military spouses who give up their jobs due to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders may be eligible for unemployment benefits. At this time, 46 states offer unemployment benefits to military spouses who must leave their job due to a military move. The states that don’t offer this benefit are Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Ohio.
Unemployment benefits are governed by state law. Not only does each state has their own rules about unemployment in general, but they also have their own rules about PCS moves and eligibility for unemployment benefits. I’ll answer some common questions here, but these are broad generalizations. You need to check with your specific state to get specific answers.
Where Do I File for Unemployment?
To make a claim for unemployment benefits, go to the Department of Labor or unemployment website for the state from which you are moving/have moved. Most states permit you to do everything online. If not, you may be able to go to a local unemployment office in your new location and file an interstate claim.
How Soon Can I Quit?
It depends. Every state is different – it might be 30 days, 15 days, or even 10 days. Some states may require you to attempt to transfer jobs with your current company.
How Much Is The Unemployment Benefit?
Each state has its own formula and maximum benefit amount. Maximum weekly benefits range from $235 in Mississippi to $823 in Massachusetts (2020 figures.) Puerto Rico is less and, frankly, I’m a little confused by their rates.
There is also a maximum number of weeks you can receive unemployment benefits, ranging from 12 weeks to 30 weeks.
What Do I Need To Do?
You will probably need to be applying for work, perhaps three jobs per week.
You may need to be physically in your new location – i.e. not visiting family or otherwise enjoying your break.
Some states will permit you to work part-time and offset your unemployment benefits with your income.
Taxes on Unemployment Benefits
Don’t forget that unemployment benefits are almost always considered taxable income, and they don’t necessarily withhold taxes on benefits. Check and see whether your state withholds, or set aside some money to take care of your tax liability when you prepare your income tax return.
Unemployment benefits can be a big help if you are forced to leave your job due to a military move. Be sure to investigate all the details of your state’s program to ensure that you follow their specific rules. Not sure if you qualify? It doesn’t take much effort to apply and find out.