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Can You File for Unemployment If You Quit but Move to Another City?

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Workers who are terminated for reasons other than gross misconduct generally receive unemployment benefits to help them bridge the gap between jobs. The amount that you receive per week while unemployed depends on several factors: the amount of your earnings while working and any fluctuations in your pay, the limit of unemployment benefits set by state law, whether you have dependents, and the percentage of your pay that your former employer pays to the federal and state governments to fund the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. You're not automatically disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if you move or relocate, whether you move to another city in the same state or to an entirely new state across the county. Based on your circumstances, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits, but it depends on why you're moving or relocating.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits if You Quit Your Job

Many workers wonder if they can receive unemployment benefits after they quit a job. Whether you are eligible for unemployment for moving depends on why you quit. Generally speaking, people who lose those jobs by no fault of their own are the only ones who are clearly eligible for unemployment benefits. That said, there may be a justifiable reason for quitting your job that won't affect your eligibility for unemployment benefits, but it depends on your state law. Unemployment insurance is a joint federal-state program, but individual states make their own rules about who can actually receive benefits.

Research Your State Law Regarding Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

The unemployment insurance program is based jointly on federal and state laws, but the state laws for who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits can vary. For example, Missouri law says you are eligible for unemployment benefits if you "lose your job through no fault of your own OR quit for good cause related to the work or the employer." Other conditions that affect your eligibility in Missouri include the amount of wages you earned, and whether your earnings reach the threshold during a base period that consists of four quarters. Key to your eligibility is why you quit, and Missouri considers factors such as whether the work was suitable as one good reason. In this case, suitable work means if you accept a job and decide within 28 days from the day you start working that the work is unsuitable, you may not be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

As far as moving, Missouri law says that if you worked in Missouri, you must file your claim for unemployment benefits in Missouri. And if you move out-of-state, you must register with the state in which you move to, but still draw your unemployment benefits from Missouri. This means that, provided you are actively seeking work in your new state, you are still eligible to receive unemployment benefits from your previous employment in Missouri. If you move to another city within the state, then your claim for unemployment benefits stays put in Missouri. The National Conference of State Legislatures is a terrific clearinghouse for all things related to unemployment for every state in the U.S.

Relocation Unemployment Eligibility

If you quit your job for good reason, you should be able to receive unemployment benefits. But if you quit your job just to relocate, you might not be eligible for unemployment. Consider this: You have been working for quite some time, yet you want another adventure and decide to quit your current job and relocate to another state. Quitting your job because you want something else, may not be a good enough reason to convince the unemployment hearing officer that you are entitled to unemployment benefits. Unemployment due to spouse relocation is likely to keep your eligibility intact. For example, if you are a military spouse and you must quit your job to follow your spouse to another duty location, you will likely be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. The key phrase is "through no fault of your own," which really just boils down to you didn't have a choice. Usually, wanting a new adventure is not one of the acceptable reasons for you to quit your job and to still qualify to collect unemployment. If that were the case, the number of employees who quit their jobs just because they want something different, would collect unemployment benefits and eventually, they'd bankrupt the system. If you need to discuss your reason for leaving a job, and if relocation is the basis for your decision, get an official answer from an unemployment specialist to make sure that you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she earned both the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), through the Society for Human Resource Management, and certification as a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ruth also is certified as a facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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