If You Lost Your Job Tomorrow, Would You Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

Employees who’ve lost their job through no fault of their own — i.e., were not fired by their employers for misconduct or poor performance, but were laid off — are generally eligible for unemployment benefits. By way of this program, employees are able to receive a portion of their wages, when they are out of a job for a period up to a maximum of 26 weeks. The eligibility rules for unemployment and the period of payment vary from state to state and each state administers its own unemployment insurance/benefits program within the federal law guidelines. The question for you is, are you covered if you lose your job?

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If you quit your job, you are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, there are a few exceptions under which, you will become eligible to file for benefits. The reason for quitting should fall under the purview of what is considered “good cause.”

Again, the definition of “good cause” varies from state to state. In general, most states consider the following reasons as good causes. Please refer to your specific state’s policy to understand if you will be covered:

Dangerous/Unbearable Work Conditions

Most states allow you to collect benefits if you quit because you are exposed to dangerous working conditions that your employer fails to address, a victim of sexual harassment, or are required to perform illegal acts at the behest of the employer. These kind of exit are called constructive discharge and is treated similar to termination without cause. Demotion, changes in job duties, and pay cuts may also be constructive discharge.

Care for Family

If you quit to take care of a family member who is terminally ill (definition of family member and seriousness of illness varies state to state), you may be able to avail unemployment compensation. In some states, quitting to take care of a child after losing child care and making sufficient efforts to replace the care is also considered reasonable cause.

Medical Reasons

For work-related or work-aggravated medical conditions, some states offer unemployment benefits.

Domestic Violence

If the reason for quitting relate to domestic violence, many states allow for collection of unemployment benefits.

According to Nolo, a legal encyclopedia site, if an employee quits his current job to apply for a new job, but the new job does not materialize, then it may be a basis for collecting unemployment.

In addition, some states also allow for unemployment benefits when the reason for quitting is to join your spouse in a distant location.

However, please note that you are required to be looking and applying for jobs during the period you claim for unemployment. You need to report your activity at predetermined intervals. Failure to do so may result in your losing your benefits.

Disclaimer: The article is meant for informational purposes only. Please refer to your state’s unemployment eligibility details or a local employment lawyer to understand if any of these reasons apply to your individual case.

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