I am employed, and we are about to PCS. Do I get benefits for unemployment during our move?
Brittany; Active Duty Army Spouse of two years
Thanks for writing!
Let us start by just catching up some readers who are not familiar with unemployment. Known officially as Unemployment Insurance, it is simply a program providing financial assistance to the employee after they have lost a job through no fault of their own (i.e. they did not quit).
A lot of people hold the belief that you can only qualify for unemployment if you do not quit a job (and other employer-employee relationship factors are met). Even more military dependents don’t realize they are not disqualified, even though they “quit” when PCS orders are issued to their spouse. It’s not like you chose to leave your job and politely asked the military for PCS orders. In fact, you might love your job and employer very much. The anxiety over having to move with the added anxiety of having less money and a job-search ahead was not your choice. Not by far.
Because you quit due to a military move, you may be in luck and qualify for benefits. We say “may” because UI benefits are state-specific.
You will want to start with researching the benefits in your state (generally the state that you are leaving and were working in). Follow up by researching the state that you are moving to, just in case and for the sake of clarity. A quick search with your favorite search engine, like “Colorado Unemployment,” should get you all of the information that you need.
We will tell you from experience that it can be a rocky road to receiving benefits, but if you stick with it and jump through the hoops that they ask you to jump through, victory can be attained. For instance, because some of our jobs are overseas, there may be several more layers of paperwork to complete, calls to make, etc. It was worth it in the end, because unemployment benefits are typically awarded if you’re a military spouse.
Here are some additional resources that might be helpful:
- National Conference of State Legislatures: It has a nice neat grid that breaks down the UI benefits as related to military family members by state:
- Military OneSource: You’ll find an easy-to-understand one-page explanation about UI and best practices
- Army Benefits website: Try a by-state search.
During this time of transition while you’re playing the waiting game, it is easy to get down on the military and government for putting you in this position: moving yet again. But, try to take solace in the fact that things are better than they once were. It’s nice to know that these benefits and policies are adapting, and things are changing for the better in some ways.
Persistence definitely pays… and in more ways than one!