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Can a Housewife Get Unemployment?

If you are a housewife and haven't worked for an employer in a significant period of time, you won't be able to claim unemployment benefits for yourself. However, your unemployed spouse may be able to claim you as a dependent and receive additional benefits for your family. If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits you should ensure that your homemaking duties do not interfere with your job search or the ability to take new employment.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits provide temporary income to people who worked for employers that paid into the unemployment insurance system. Housewives who haven't worked at jobs that pay into the unemployment system won't be eligible for benefits. However, if a housewife worked part-time and then lost her job, she may be eligible to receive some unemployment benefits, providing that she meets other eligibility criteria.

Available For Work

If you lose your job and receive unemployment benefits, you must regularly look for work and be available to take a suitable job if it is offered to you. While you can assume domestic duties during unemployment, such as keeping house or taking care of your children, you must be able to quickly make arrangements for housekeeping and child care so that you can work, or go to job interviews and trainings offered by your local unemployment office.

Spousal Benefit

If your spouse loses his job and is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, he may be able to claim you as a dependent and receive additional money to help support your family. The eligibility rules for dependent spouse allowances vary by state. In some states, such as Illinois, your spouse may only have to prove that he provided a significant portion, but not all, of your support. This means that even if you worked a low wage or part-time job, he can receive spousal benefits in his unemployment check.

Other Types of Assistance

If you are unable to find employment and you do not have any financial support, you may be eligible for public assistance programs, such as food stamps, utility grants or cash assistance. If you are recently divorced or widowed and do not have any recent work experience, you may also be eligible for displaced homemaker services. Depending on the state you live in, these services may provide you with career counseling and assistance in training for a new career.


Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.