Unemployment benefits can be a lifesaver when you’re out of work. In many states, however, you may find it difficult to collect those benefits if you quit your job. In the state of Indiana, you are only entitled to unemployment benefits if you become unemployed through no fault of your own. If you quit voluntarily, you must have a good reason, such as unsafe working conditions, military service or domestic violence. Indiana makes unemployment decisions on a case-by-case basis. You must provide documentation of the reason you quit to a claims deputy, who will make the final decision on your unemployment eligibility.
Basic Qualifications for Unemployment
Whether or not you quit your job, you must meet certain requirements to collect unemployment benefits in Indiana. Indiana calculates unemployment benefits from your earnings during a base period, which the state defines as the first four quarters of the five completed quarters prior to the week in which you file for unemployment. Your earnings for the base period must be at least $4,200, of which at least $2,500 must be in the last six months of the base period.
In addition, your total wages must be at least one-and-a-half times your highest-quarter wages. Additionally, you must be able, willing and available to work. Indiana’s final requirement for unemployment benefits is that you be unemployed through no fault of your own. If you quit, you must be prepared to prove your case.
Reasons to Quit
Work-related reasons to quit typically have to do with working conditions, family relocation or outside factors such as domestic violence. The Indiana “Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook” notes some examples of good work-related reasons to quit: Your employer arbitrarily and unreasonably changes your working conditions or terms; an employer expects you to do something illegal; working conditions are clearly unsafe; or you are the victim of harassment by supervisors or co-workers.
Nonwork reasons to quit might include leaving to join a spouse transferred to another state, needing to care for a sick family member or new baby, or leaving for military service. If you suffer domestic violence and must leave for your own protection, you may qualify for unemployment benefits.
Proving Your Case
If you quit your job, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development will expect you to prove your case by supplying documentation supporting the reasons you quit. For example, if you left because of harassment, you should have documentation that you tried to rectify the situation by following your organization’s anti-harassment policies. The claims deputy may also ask for proof that you contacted the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and may deny your claim if you never reported the harassment.
If you quit because of unsafe working conditions, the claims deputy may ask for documentation that you reported the problem to your employer, gave an opportunity to resolve the situation and took other actions. Your labor union, for example, may be able to assist with unsafe working conditions if you work under a collective bargaining agreement.
Indiana makes the determination about unemployment benefits from information supplied by you and your most recent employer. The claims deputy will also contact your base period employer or employers for information regarding your claim. When the process is complete, you will receive a declaration of eligibility that confirms or denies your right to unemployment benefits.
Since each case is different, you have nothing to lose by applying for benefits. Be prepared to submit all information supporting your claim that you quit for good reason. Keep in mind that in Indiana, if you take money in exchange for voluntarily retiring or resigning, you're not eligible for unemployment benefits.
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