Forty States Provide Military Spouses Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation

Mar 09 2012

Published by at 4:04 pm under Career,Legislation,Tips & Advice

shutterstock_40103446**Current as of  06/18/2015.  Additional states (in bold)  now provide military spouses eligibility for unemployment compensation.  Stay with us as we track this important issue. Sign up for our E-News letter today.

PCS season will soon be here.

According to the DoD ,”-working [military] spouses lose approximately 6-9 months of salary per relocation.”

Generally, unemployment benefits are not available when an employee leaves a job voluntarily. However, 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.”

Forty-six States and the District of Columbia provide military spouses eligibility for unemployment compensation.

Will you leave a job to accompany your spouse as part of a PCS move?  See where your state stands on this important issue.

  • Alabama   YES  ( 5/26/2012; the law takes effect 08/01/2012)
  • Alaska   YES
  • Arizona   YES
  • Arkansas   YES
  • California   YES
  • Colorado   YES
  • Connecticut   YES
  • DC   YES
  • Delaware   YES
  • Florida   YES
  • Georgia   YES
  • Hawaii   YES
  • Idaho   NO
  • Illinois   YES
  • Indiana   YES
  • Iowa   YES
  • Kansas   YES
  • Kentucky   YES
  • Louisiana   NO
  • Maine   YES
  • Maryland   YES
  • Massachusetts   YES
  • Michigan   YES
  • Minnesota   YES
  • Mississippi   YES
  • Missouri   YES
  • Montana   YES
  • Nebraska   YES
  • Nevada   YES
  • New Hampshire   YES
  • New Jersey   YES
  • New Mexico   YES
  • New York   YES
  • North Carolina   YES
  • North Dakota   NO
  • Ohio   NO
  • Oklahoma   YES
  • Oregon   YES
  • Pennsylvania   YES
  • Rhode Island   YES
  • South Carolina   YES
  • South Dakota   YES
  • Tennessee   YES (signed 04/04/2012)
  • Texas   YES
  • Utah   YES (03/15/2012)
  • Vermont   YES
  • Virginia   YES (Signed 3/31/2014; Effective 07/01/2014)
  • Washington   YES
  • West Virginia   YES (04/02/2012; effective 06/07/2012)
  • Wisconsin   YES

Click here  information on individual state statutes and provisions. Select key search term, “Spousal Employment Issues”.

****NEW*****Click here to view the National Conference of State Legislatures Military and Veterans Affairs Legislation Tracking Database. The database includes introduced, pending, enacted and failed legislation from 2010 through 2014 on topics such as Spousal Employment issues, base realignment and closure (BRAC), education, employment benefits and licensing, health, insurance and death benefits, mental health, mission sustainability, readiness, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) benefits, and taxation.

 For additional information contact your state department of labor.

Karen serves as Deputy Director, Government Relations (Military Family Issues).


169 responses so far

169 Responses to “Forty States Provide Military Spouses Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation”

  1. Lynnon 30 Dec 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you! I have already tried to reach out, with no response. I will keep trying. I was hoping that maybe someone had experienced this before. Thank you again

  2. Tieonon 04 Feb 2015 at 10:29 pm

    I was in Germany before here so how would I go about filing???? Do I go through the state we was living when she joined????

  3. Anneon 09 Feb 2015 at 6:34 pm

    My husband will be receiving orders to PCS to a US Embassy overseas soon. We are currently stationed in California. I am having a difficult time finding information about qualifying for Unemployment Benefits. Would I qualify? Any information would help. Thank you.

  4. Sandraon 17 Feb 2015 at 1:56 pm

    What happens if your service member has EASd and you return to your home of record. Does this count as a military move?

  5. Sandraon 17 Feb 2015 at 1:58 pm

    What happens if my husband EAS’s and we move home. Is this a military move?

  6. Danielleon 09 Mar 2015 at 11:57 pm

    #Mel and #Jes, you can still apply for unemployment even when you are on LWOP because you are not getting paid. Basically, LWOP is saying that you are a Government employee and yes it will give you preferred status at your next Duty Station but you are still not getting paid and that is where the unemployment helps to offset some of the loss in wages. When I joined my husband on his PCS form Kansas to Korea I went on LWOP and collected unemployment until I found a job here in Korea.

    What I am curious now is that we are in Korea and getting ready to PCS in June, but we still don’t know where to. I am hoping I will be able to collect unemployment from somewhere when we leave here to help offset my lost wages and the large expense it costs to move overseas that the government does not cover. Anyone have experience with this?

  7. Cocoon 12 Mar 2015 at 11:21 am

    Hi All,
    Thanks for providing this site. Such great resource. I left my job in Massachusetts to PCS with my husband to Japan in 2013. I was initially approved to receive benefits (and luckily found a job within the year as well) however a year later was sent a letter we had to return all the unemployment money. It’s now a year later through all the appeals and they are stating our move would have to have been on one of the 50 states which is not what is listed on any of their law books. On the other side I am also being told that technically we live on US territory here in Okinawa since we live on base so we don’t really live outside the US (not sure if this is right but since I pay MA taxes and am technically still a MA residence (I vote there, maintain citizenship there). I also have to pay MA taxes now that i have my current job here which seems rather idiotic to have to repay everything only to continue to pay the state that denied me benefits in the first place. I have no idea what is right or wrong anymore and their law books don’t say anything about benefits being received by having to move within the 50 states, which we keep asking them to point it out and we just get a vague answer from an appeals worker. And then we always have to argue we are not technically considered overseas for all other purposes.
    It’s frustrating and a lot of money we don’t have to have to pay back. Any thoughts? I completely understand if we don’t have a case but they keep flip-flopping with different reasons on denying my claim (one claims person even stated I was applying for benefits from China -I’ve never been to China nor would there even be a US military base there but she wasn’t buying my insistence on that one.
    I appreciate any help on this and hope all your cases work out as well!

  8. Ericon 03 Apr 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I have received 2 year unaccompanied orders overseas, and my wife can’t come due to our son being in the EFMP program. Do you know if she can file for unemployment in California due to the increased hardship of her having to essentially become a single parent?

  9. Deniseon 03 May 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I submitted my claim to Hawaii after reading your article. I just recently received a notice stating my claim is invalid/rejected because I relocated in advance of my husband’s orders (1 month in advance). They said moving in advance of him to find a home and write offers was not compelling enough. So much for Hawaii helping me out.

  10. Karenon 11 May 2015 at 11:07 am


    I am sorry to hear about your troubles. Each state sets the rules regarding claims. have you tried appealing the decision?

  11. RHarrison 16 May 2015 at 7:22 am

    What about coming from overseas back to the states. Can you file for UI once back in the states?

  12. Dianaon 18 May 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Do you know where I can find information about Hawaii allow military spouses to claim unemployment? I filed unemployment with KY and just was told they I got denied because HI doesn’t recognize the same statues as KY with military spouses leaving their jobs to relocate with their husband. I am waiting for my letter so that I can try to appeal.

  13. Deniseon 18 May 2015 at 11:58 pm

    I filed an appeal and received a notice I have a hearing in a few weeks. In my appeal I included the verbage from the bill that both the House and the State Legislature passed. I hope to have employment before the date of my hearing.

    Here’s the link to the law:

  14. Christinaon 10 Jul 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve been overseas for 2.5 years and have been out of work. This is my husband’s first duty station. We are from California. Is there any way I can claim now after just finding out about this?

  15. Silviaon 16 Aug 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I recently PCS’d with my husband from WA to OK. I filled unemployment with WA but was denined because I am in an LWOP status with the DoD. The LWOP status is suppose to assist with me being eligible for certain positions that are only available for current employees. Do you know of any legislation or court decision out there that might support an appeal to this decision?

  16. Dianaon 16 Aug 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So I appealed KY’s denial and was denied again, this time they are stating that I didn’t leave on good cause because I quit my job to follow my husband, that’s in the military. But they insist that they also allow milspouses to claim unemployment. A spouse would not leave their job if their husband wasn’t pcsing.

  17. Kellyon 11 Sep 2015 at 1:54 pm

    My husband is PCS’ing to Germany. I will lose my current job. I have applied for several jobs overseas but no success. I am coming from Ft.Bliss, TX. Can I apply for unemployment? Should I do this while still in TX or after the relocation?

  18. Karenon 11 Sep 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Kelly, Check with the the State of Texas BEFORE you leave your current position.

  19. Jessica Laceyon 25 Sep 2015 at 5:28 am

    I know to contact my state for official word but I’m curious if a military spouse has left a job in an overseas location (Turkey) and PCS’d with their military member spouse to another overseas location (Japan) and been able to receive benefits because their state of residence (Indiana) is a ‘yes’ state?