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Relocating to a new home and job poses its own challenges, but losing your income as a result of relocating in support of your husband’s job re-assignment can place unnecessary financial burden on your family. Fortunately, many states have amended their unemployment laws to include special provisions for spouses who must quit their job to relocate to a spouse’s new job assignment.
In order to receive unemployment compensation, voluntarily unemployed applicants must provide a statement and evidence of just cause to supplement their unemployment insurance application. According to Congressional Research Service, as of February 2011, 23 states accept spousal job re-assignments as reason for just cause, provided the new place of residence is outside of reasonable commuting distances and time. However, if there are transferable work-sites close to your new place of residence, some states will excuse your spouse’s transfer as claims for just cause.
Military service members often receive reassignments to new military posts at whim, in turn uprooting their families and disrupting their spouses job. As of 2010, 38 states allow the civilian spouse of a transferred military service member to receive unemployment compensation. However, according to Massachusetts' Office of Labor and Workforce Development, his transfer must be involuntary and for the convenience of their military service branch; otherwise, the civilian spouse will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The laws of a few states—Ohio, Maryland and Texas—include a specific disqualification for unemployment claimants who leave work to relocate with a spouse. However, Maryland and Texas excuse military spouses from this rule. This rule is time-sensitive in states such as Texas, where disqualifications last anywhere from six to 25 weeks, and sensitive to earnings in states such as Ohio, where disqualified claimants can re-establish eligibility after earning a specified wage.
In addition to meeting the rules for just cause, you must still comply with the eligibility requirements for unemployment compensation, in the same manner as traditional applicants. Applicants must meet the minimums for earnings and qualifying work weeks during the base period, as established by their respective state labor board. The base period is the five quarter time-period before you intend to quit your job and file your unemployment claim. During this period, you must work a set amount of weeks, earning at least the minimum average weekly wage set by your state’s labor board. If you fail to earn the minimum average weekly wage or work the minimum amount of qualifying work weeks, most states will establish an alternate base period for you to meet these minimums. If you fail to meet the earnings and qualifying work weeks minimums during the alternate base period, you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation.