By Julie Provost

These are the unemployment options available to milspouses during PCS moves
(Photo: DVIDS)

You have worked at your job for the last three years. You love your boss and your work environment, but then your spouse comes home one day and tells you that you will be PCSing from the Pacific Northwest to Virginia. You and your spouse depend on your income to help make ends meet.

What should you do? You will have to quit your job but does that mean you can’t claim unemployment? What are your options?

Unemployment benefits are typically for people who have lost their jobs, not those who have resigned on their own. However, having to quit your job because your spouse received military orders in another state or country can be seen as nonvoluntary, depending on where you live. Moving every few years comes with military life, and if you can’t take your job with you, things can get a bit complicated. The good news is, you do have a chance for claiming unemployment benefits.

The “good cause” reason for quitting your job comes down to your particular state. Some states will only give unemployment benefits to military spouses and other states will open benefits up to any spouse who has to quit their job to follow their spouse. Forty-six states allow you to apply for benefits if you had to quit your job due to military orders.

If you are getting ready to PCS and will need to quit your job, you must take action to receive these benefits.

  • Apply for unemployment benefits in the state that you worked in
  • Know that laws can and do change every year so finding out the most recent information is important
  • Visit the United States Department of Labor website in order to know the regulations for your state
  • Make plans to do this as soon as you know when you will be moving

For those going overseas, you should still be able to apply for benefits if your state allows you to do so and if you can prove that you are looking for a US job. If you are moving back from overseas, you need to make sure to check the laws of the state you are a resident.

When applying for benefits, keep in mind that each state has its own rules and regulations.There will be criteria you will need to meet to qualify which will also determine how much your benefits will be:

  • Time that you worked at your job
  • What you made at your job
  • When you quit your job

Keep in mind that if you quit your job too early before the PCS, you might not qualify for the benefits. You will need to actively be looking for a new job to receive these benefits and that is something you can do as soon as you receive PCS orders.

With most states, you should be able to file a claim online or by telephone. This will make the process easier and allow you to do so from wherever you are located. After you do apply for your benefits, keep in mind that just because you quit your job in response to PCS orders, that does not mean you will automatically receive benefits. You can  be denied. If that happens, you can file an appeal. The state you are applying for benefits in will inform you of what needs to happen to do so, and in some cases, you might want to hire a lawyer to help you.

If you do qualify for unemployment benefits, there will be a few things you will need to do to continue to receive them:

  • File weekly or biweekly claims
  • Submit updates on jobs you have applied for
  • Report any money that you have made

Even if you do qualify to apply for the benefits you still might be denied. This could be because you are not able to work or be available for employment, because you refused a suitable job offer or made a false statement in order to receive benefits, or if you were let go of your job due to misconduct.

Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at