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In Which State Should I File for Unemployment if I Just Moved?

You can receive unemployment benefits if you have lost your job. To receive benefits, however, you need to apply for them. If you recently moved from one state to another, you might be confused as to where you should file for unemployment benefits. To determine the state in which you need to file for unemployment benefits, you need to know how you come to receive unemployment benefits.

Social Security Act

The Social Security Act of 1935 established the need for states to collect unemployment taxes. The Social Security Act is a federal program; therefore, all states must participate. States collect unemployment taxes from individual employers, and the federal government subsequently deposits the funds collected from each state’s employers into the Federal Unemployment Tax Fund. Each state has its own portion of the fund.

Collection of Unemployment Taxes

Each employer must contribute to its state’s unemployment insurance trust fund for each of its qualifying employees. If the employee qualifies, the employer must pay unemployment tax to the state for this employee. Each state has its own criteria under which an employee qualifies for receiving unemployment benefits. These criteria usually are based on the amount of time an employee has worked for the employer and the amount of wages the employee has earned working for the employer. For example, in California, an employee qualifies if he received at least $1,300 in income from his employer during the base period. An employee also qualifies if he received at least $900 in wages during one quarter of the base period and his total earnings equal 1.25 times his earnings for his highest-earning quarter.

Qualifying Employees

If you were a qualifying employee, your former employer should have paid unemployment taxes on you during your time of employment. These taxes were deposited into your state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. If you need to apply for unemployment benefits, you should apply in the state where you worked, which would be the state in which you lived before you moved. Your employer paid taxes for you in that state, so your unemployment benefits will be distributed from that state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

Other Requirements

You should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as you separate from employment. Your state will determine if you qualify based on the base period, which is the 12 months that ended between four and six months before the date you filed for unemployment. You must have been separated from employment through no fault of your own. You must also be willing and able to work and searching for new employment to receive unemployment benefits.


August Jackson is a contributor to various websites. She has taken courses in copywriting and has worked in corporate America as a proofreader. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in bankruptcy law.