How to File Unemployment for a Military Spouse

Thirty-eight states pay unemployment benefits to civilian spouses of transferred military service members.
Thirty-eight states pay unemployment benefits to civilian spouses of transferred military service members. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Civilian spouses of military service members who voluntarily leave their jobs due to their spouse's military transfer are eligible for unemployment benefits in certain states. If your state doesn’t provide unemployment benefits for transferred military spouses, you can still apply for unemployment benefits. However, these states may regard you as a voluntary unemployed applicant, even though you are moving to be with a military spouse, and you may be required to abide by a separate set of rules than traditional unemployment applicants. Additionally, if your job has a transferable worksite close to your new place of residence, some states require that you accept the transfer rather than apply for unemployment benefits.

Determine if you live in a state that allows the civilian spouse of a transferred military service member to receive unemployment benefits. According to Congressional Research Service’s Unemployment Compensation (Insurance) and Military Service report, 37 states plus the District of Columbia pay unemployment benefits for workers who quit their jobs to accompany a military spouse. Remember, eligibility is based on the rules within the state that you left, not your new state of residence.

Obtain proof of your spouse's reason for transfer to attach to your unemployment application. Your spouse's transfer cannot be at his own request. It must be involuntary and for the convenience of his service branch. Otherwise, you are ineligible for unemployment benefits. An official transfer notice or an official written letter from your spouse’s chain of command will suffice as proof of his transfer.

File an interstate unemployment claim at your local unemployment office in your place of residence. According to Military Spouses’ Career Network Unemployment Compensation Guide, the majority of military spouses must file an interstate claim, which is an application for benefits in one state based on eligibility in a previous state or residence. Your eligibility will depend on the requirements of the state where you previously resided. Attach proof of your spouse’s transfer when you submit your unemployment application.

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