Unemployment compensation may ease financial troubles after PCS


More than 14.5 percent of the military spouse population moves across state

lines every year, compared to just over one percent of civilian spouses, according to

a 2010 population survey. It’s safe to say that military families move a lot, mostly

every two or three years, but sometimes more frequently. Often times, spouses

choose to accompany their service members as a way of keeping the family together

to ease the transition for everyone, but it can come at a price.

The Department of Defense estimates that “working spouses lose

approximately six to nine months of salary per relocation,” according to the Military

Officers Association of America. That extra income often helps to ease child care,

housing and other costs in addition to the service member’s pay. When gone, it can

stretch household budgets beyond their limits and force families to reconfigure

budgets in advance or face financial problems. The Defense Manpower Data Center

Status of Force Survey of Active Duty Members found that 77 percent of military

spouses say they want or need to work.


For those who are concerned about their budget after a move, there may be

some help available. Numerous states have adjusted their unemployment laws to

allow spouses of active duty service members to collect income for a period of time

during and after a Permanent Change of Station move as long as spouses left their

jobs due to a PCS. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia provide military

spouses eligibility to collect unemployment compensation. The only states with no

legislation at this time are Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota and

Ohio and Wyoming.

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Before states changed their laws, unemployment benefits were not available

to those who quit their jobs voluntarily, but the concept of voluntarily leaving a job

as a military spouse is a little different. According to the National Conference of

State Legislatures, “recognizing that spouses of military service personnel who quit

their jobs due to a military transfer may not be quitting so ‘voluntarily,’ state

legislators have amended unemployment compensation laws to help military

families who are relocating between states.” The idea is that military families face a

lot of stress due to deployments and PCS, so they often remain together to make

transitions easier. But leaving a job knowing a spouse will lose, in some cases, a

decent amount of income can add to the stress.

Those who are interested in seeking unemployment compensation should

first check the guidelines of the state in which he or she was employed, as each state

has its own requirements, compensation and process.

Spouses should apply for unemployment in the state in which the spouse

was employed NOT the state he or she is moving to or the state of which he or she

is a resident. In some cases, spouses may be able to receive unemployment

compensation from the state they PCS to if the state they left does not offer benefits,

though this may be rare or require other special circumstances.

It is important to note that spouses who leave their jobs before PCS orders

are issued will likely be denied, as the spouse chose to quit before knowing if or

when the PCS would occur. These unemployment compensations are only for

spouses who specifically quit their jobs to move with their service members for a


This is news that can help some family budgets last a little longer until the

spouse is able to find other employment in a new state. For more information on

military spouse unemployment compensation go here and click on the state in

which you were employed.

Information for this article was provided by the Military Officers Association of


Sarah PeacheySarah Peachey is a 20-something journalist from Pennsylvania, back in the Mid-Atlantic after voyages to the Deep South and Southwest. She lives with her husband, toddler and newborn. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an installation newspaper, winning three state awards for her work, and she now freelances for military spouse support sites and consults for MilitaryOneClick. She has a passion for politics and fiery debate. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast and crossword addict.