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One of the safety nets for recently laid off employees is unemployment benefits. Most employers pay into state-run unemployment insurance programs to cover some of the salary lost to workers who were laid off through no fault of their own.
That said, each state runs their unemployment insurance systems a little differently, so the exact rules on eligibility and benefits can vary from state to state. And between vacations, relocations, and remote work locations, you may need to apply for and collect unemployment from a state in which you currently don't reside. So how does that work?
Maybe you're trying to find work in a new state. Maybe you just need a change of scenery. But what happens if you move out of state while collecting unemployment? No, your new home state doesn't take over paying your unemployment insurance claim. But, the state where you initially filed your claim will continue to pay you, as long as you remain eligible.
You will need to file a change of address with the state from which began receiving your unemployment and continue to file your weekly or biweekly claim to continue collecting benefits after you move. You may also need to register with an employment office in your new state. Be aware that some states set limits on how long you can collect unemployment benefits after relocating, so the time period you can receive benefits may be shorter if you move. If that happens, you contact the office that handles unemployment claims in the state where you moved.
Figuring out where to file your initial claim, however, can get tricky in today's telecommuting work environment. Let's say you live in one state, travel to one nearby to work. Or you work remotely in one state for a company headquartered in another. Do you file where you live? Where you worked? Or where your employer is located?
While state laws may vary, generally you will file in the state where the work is done. So, if you live in New Jersey but commute to work in New York, you would apply for unemployment benefits from New York. But if you live and work at of your home in New Jersey for a company based in New York, you would likely apply in New Jersey after losing your job. Most of the time, employers are paying into the unemployment insurance programs of the both the state where they are located and where their employers are working, if they are different.
And what if you just want to get away for a little after you've been laid off? Can you collect unemployment while on vacation in another state? The answer to this has more to do with unemployment eligibility rather than your physical location. Most states require unemployment beneficiaries to be actively looking for full-time work and available to accept any work that is offered. This may be hard to prove if you're sipping on a Mai Tai on the beach. "Individuals on vacation are not considered able and available to work," according to one state's employment security office, "and are not eligible for benefits that week."
Applying for and receiving unemployment benefits can be confusing -- for legal help with your unemployment insurance claim, talk to a local government programs attorney.
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