Can I Get Unemployment if I Move to Another State?

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Workers in the United States are generally able to collect unemployment insurance benefits even if they move to another state. In some cases, it is just a matter of formally reporting the address change. In other cases, however, the amount of unemployment compensation may vary, or else workers receiving benefits may be required to take additional steps for the purpose of updating the status of their claims.

Background on Unemployment Benefits in the United States

There are two major types of unemployment benefits that workers in the U.S. may be entitled to when they lose their jobs: Severance packages and unemployment insurance.

Employers in the private and public sectors may offer a severance package, which can be paid out as a lump sum amount or in installments that match the pay periods of the company the workers was previously employed by.

Severance packages may be required by means of agreements signed by employers and labor unions. They may also come as a penalty due to the employer's failure to abide by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. This federal labor law requires employers whose staffs are greater than 100 workers to issue a notice 60 days prior to a mass layoff or ceasing operations. Employers who do not follow the WARN Act provisions may find themselves paying their workers' salaries for up to 60 days.

Unemployment insurance is a federal program that is administered by each state. It involves the collection of funds authorized by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) from each employer. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collect the FUTA taxes on behalf of the unemployment insurance divisions of each state. Administration of unemployment insurance and benefits is left up to individual states, which explains the difference in payout periods, filing requirements and payment amounts.

When Unemployed Workers Move Out of State

In the case of severance packages and WARN Act violations, employers must remit payments wherever the worker is located; the displaced worker simply has to notify the employers of his or her address. In the case of unemployment benefits, however, the worker must first check with his or her state's labor and employment agency.

When employees are fired or laid-off from their jobs, they must immediately file an unemployment benefits claim in the state that they work in. This is important for those workers who travel across state borders to get to work. Once they are collecting benefits and move out of state, they must notify their labor and employment agencies in order to keep getting paid. They may be required to register immediately in their new state of residence, and they may continue their job search in their new community.

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