Unemployment benefits for military spouses is a very controversial topic. Some people feel strongly that a PCS move is a perfectly valid reason to receive unemployment. Other people disagree and think that giving up a job for a PCS move is still voluntary, and should not qualify for unemployment benefits. No matter how you feel, it is good to know the laws that apply.
Unemployment benefits are governed by state law. Each state has their own rules about PCS moves and eligibility for unemployment benefits. It can be hard to keep track. Thankfully, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) compiled a list of states and their relative rules. It is clear and has good information.
Many states do not allow military spouses to claim unemployment if they leave their jobs to move with their military servicemember. Those states consider the loss of the job voluntary. While you can argue about that all you want, the states have the right to make those rules.
On aspect I think is often overlooked is that unemployment benefits are expensive for small businesses. In most states, individual businesses pay into the unemployment program based upon their unemployment claim record. If a military spouse can claim unemployment when they move, this will hurt their employer’s unemployment claim record. The business will pay more unemployment taxes because the military spouse left to move. The business would probably be less likely to hire military spouses in the future.
If you are leaving a job due to a PCS move, use the chart linked above to see if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. Then, think about whether you want to accept them. There is no right or wrong here, but rather a personal decision that each family needs to make.
I’ve never claimed unemployment, first because I didn’t know that I could, and then because our family was financial stable without it. I’m not bragging. I would have claimed it for our first few moves because my income was important to our family. I didn’t even know it was a possibility.
Have you ever claimed unemployment for a PCS move? Have you ever wanted to claim, but been denied? I’d love to know your experiences.
Do you want to know more about your military pay and benefits?
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