What Happens to an Unemployment Check When Your Mail Is Forwarded?

The post office does not forward unemployment checks, so address changes or direct deposit is necessary.
The post office does not forward unemployment checks, so address changes or direct deposit is necessary. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

After applying and being approved for unemployment benefits, the unemployment office issues you payments calculated based on your state's unemployment benefit limits and your previous work history. Many people get their benefits via paper check. When you need to be away from your residence and forward your mail, you may run into problems with getting your unemployment benefits if you don't take some precautionary steps.

Still At Old Address

In general, the post office does not forward unemployment checks. The first thing the post office usually tries to do is send the unemployment check to your normal address as a result. As long as you are still living at the normal address, the unemployment check should be waiting for you in your mailbox when you get back.

At New Address

People often have to forward their mail because they move rather than because they are temporarily not at their residence. If you fail to notify the post office and unemployment office of your permanent residency change, the unemployment check still may go to your old address. If a new resident gets mail addressed to you, they may toss it out. If they're very nice, they may ask the post office to forward it to you, but because of the post office's policy on unemployment check forwarding, the post office has no choice but to return it to the sender, the unemployment office.

New Check Request

If you cannot get your unemployment check forwarded and it gets sent back or is lost, you must request that your unemployment office issue you a new check. In your request, you must show there is a legitimate reason for the request. If the unemployment office gets your check back, they usually can verify you never cashed the original and have no problem with reissuance. However, if the check is lost, you may have to wait for the office to place a stop on the original check before the office will issue you a new one.

Bottom Line

Because the post office won't forward unemployment checks, contact your unemployment office before you leave your residence for any extended period of time. You can fill out a change of address form online with most unemployment offices, but if your state doesn't allow you to do this, you can fill out the necessary change of address form at your unemployment office. You also must change your address with the post office in person or online—this is different than filing a temporary forward request. Many states recommend that you sign up for direct deposit if available to avoid these types of issues. Failure to perform one of these options can cause a significant delay in getting your unemployment benefits. Also, failure to notify your unemployment office of an address change can trigger questions about your eligibility.

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