That period between quitting your job and finding a new one can be challenging, especially if you have a dependent.

Unemployment insurance is available for people who have lost their jobs, but did you know that you could still qualify for unemployment even if you quit? Yes, if you have good cause for quitting your job, you can file a claim for temporary unemployment.

Not everyone who quits or gets fired is eligible for unemployment benefits.

In fact, before you can file for unemployment benefits, you have to present evidence that proves that you had good cause.

The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact your state unemployment office before you decide to quit.

WHAT IS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Unemployment insurance, or unemployment benefits, is the sum of money allocated by the government or any other certified body to citizens who are unemployed and looking for work.

Usually, people who lost their jobs without any cause get this payment, but depending on the jurisdiction, people who quit their jobs with good a reason can also get unemployment benefits.

The government determines the good cause in this context in the state you belong to, and it can vary significantly in different states.

Unemployment benefits usually cover just the basic needs, and they can be pretty small. But, in some areas, unemployment benefits make up for any lost time and pay you based on your former salary.

Now, you don’t immediately benefit from unemployment insurance until you sign up and show proof that you are eligible for the payments.

Typically, you can access the unemployment laws in your home state to determine whether you qualify or not.

If you were laid off with cause, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits, the same as if you quit for personal reasons.

And when you eventually sign up and start collecting the benefits, you must prove that you are seeking employment during that period.

Eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits. Source: Brookings

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AFTER YOU QUIT?

When you quit your job, there is already a good chance that you won’t qualify for unemployment benefits unless you can prove without a doubt that you stopped with good cause.

Good cause means a lot of things in different places, so you must confirm with your local unemployment office to know what constitutes good cause before you apply for unemployment.

You have a chance to prove that you qualify for unemployment benefits after you file, and your employer will most likely contest that claim.

So, to remove any doubt, confirm with your state unemployment office if you are eligible before you quit. You also have a chance to have a hearing where you can plead your case if your first case gets denied.

HOW TO CONFIRM YOUR ELIGIBILITY

You can quit your job for so many different reasons, like too many long hours, slow advancement opportunities, or difficult responsibilities, but all these do not constitute good cause.

For you to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you need to prove that you had no choice but to quit.

The best way to make sure your bases are covered is to go into your local unemployment office before you quit, so they can help you confirm if you have a strong case.

Otherwise, your employer can contest your claim, and if you don’t have sufficient proof, you may lose the hearing.

Also, you need to show that you didn’t just run at the first sign of a problem. You must prove that you made efforts to save the job and tried to repair the relationship between you and your employer.

For example, you shouldn’t just quit because a co-worker sexually harassed you.

Rather, you should report to your employer or HR office, and if they don’t take your claim seriously and address the situation, then you have good cause to quit.

REASONS THAT CONSTITUTE GOOD CAUSE

Constructive discharge

The term ‘constructive discharge’ is used when your employer has made your working conditions so intolerable that you have to force your way out of the job.

This is one of the hardest reasons to prove, so you have to collect as much information as possible before going forward with it. Several reasons fall into constructive discharge, and if you have a strong case, you will be treated as if you got laid off without cause.

Constructive discharge is only valid in cases where your employers subjected you to intolerable working conditions, and they refused to do something about it when you complained.

For example, if you have to quit because of continuous sexual harassment from a co-worker, or your boss wants you to do something illegal in the line of work, that can be termed constructive discharge.

Also, if your working conditions are unsafe for you and can cause you harm or injury, it may be termed constructive discharge.

In short, any conditions that a rational and reasonable person will find impossible or difficult to work in can be considered unsafe working conditions, and that can qualify you for unemployment benefits.

Unlawful discrimination

Anybody can be a victim of discrimination based on several factors, from race, age, and even gender.

If you can prove that your employer acted against you in a discriminatory manner, you may get unemployment benefits after quitting. It depends on the type of discrimination, and if you can prove it happened.

Some states also consider you eligible if you face what is known as unreasonable harassment, and your employer does nothing about it. If that is your problem, you need to confirm with your unemployment office to see what falls under this category in your state.

Lack of work

Another reason that falls under good cause is if your employer cuts down the work assigned to you, or your hours of work for no reason and without pay.

Meaning they move you from full-time to part-time permanently or without good reason. Different states have different time frames that can be considered short-term or long-term.

Note that if your hours were cut for a good reason, or the situation was only for a short time, you may not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Caring for a family member

Most states consider quitting to take care of a family member that is either sick or who needs special care as good cause.

The degree of relationship, the severity of the illness, and if you quit to be the sole or primary caretaker of the relative may vary across states.

It works the same way if you quit because of your own failing health and can no longer work. You may need to get a doctor’s permission before you quit, in some cases.

Some states will only grant you unemployment benefits if your injury or disability is directly connected to the job you quit, i.e., your job must be responsible for causing or worsening the injury.

Total unemployment benefits collected in America. Source: CNN

Domestic violence

Most states offer unemployment benefits to victims of domestic abuse if they had to quit because staying at the job would have endangered their lives or that of their loved ones.

Loved ones can include any member of your immediate family, including parents and grandparents.

Your safety can be threatened if the perpetrator contacts any of your colleagues at work or boss, threatens you about the job, did things that may interfere with your work, or even makes your employer aware of the abuse.

In a domestic violence case, all you need to present as evidence are files documenting your abuse, like court records, medical records, or any records from any organization you went to for help.

Another job

It is not common knowledge, but you can get unemployment benefits if you quit a job because of another job.

For instance, you can quit one job with the understanding that another job is waiting for you, only for that new job to fall through.

It is a tricky situation, but it is valid only if you already secured the new job before quitting. Note that if you quit to look for a new job, you will not be eligible for unemployment.

Relocation with spouse

Eligibility due to relocation is another reason where states have different requirements. In some cases, if your spouse is moving to another place for work or whatever reason, you can relocate with them and claim unemployment until you find a job.

There are three ways in which different states handle spousal relocation. In some states, you either get benefits or you don’t, regardless of the reason for relocation.

But, in other states, only military assignment qualifies you to claim unemployment insurance.

Regardless of the state, you relocate to, your unemployment benefits are determined by whatever state you earned wages in, so you can register in the unemployment office closest to your new home.

You still have to prove that you are still on the search for new employment. Some states have a maximum benefit amount, but depending on your location, you may get benefits according to your previous wages.

The conditions for getting these unemployment benefits vary from state to state.

For example, some states will only give you benefits if the state you move to also offers unemployment allowance for trailing spouses.

Some might only pay if you don’t move so far away, while others have waiting periods, and some also pay if you move with a domestic partner that isn’t necessarily your spouse.

Employer breaks employment law

There are several federal and state laws that guide employee and employer relationships, and these laws are in place to make sure both sides get fair judgment and treatment.

So, if, for any reason, your employer has been breaking these laws in a way that makes it impossible to do your job correctly, you may have good cause to quit.

Although some states have different ways in which they define these laws, you have a good chance of claiming unemployment insurance, especially if you have proof that you tried to reach out to your employer to stop, and they didn’t.

Change in the job description or working conditions

If your employer suddenly changes your job description and gives you responsibilities you can’t carry out effectively, you may have good cause.

Also, if your working conditions are suddenly changed and the new environment isn’t conducive to you in a way that affects your health, you should call attention to it. If your claims are ignored or rejected, you may have good cause to quit.

Employer cuts your wages permanently

Sometimes, in periods of recession or economic decline, an employer may have no choice but to reduce employee wages and duties.

But, this is usually done temporarily to cover for the reduced income. In cases like that, you may not qualify for unemployment insurance.

However, if your wages and hours are cut permanently, you may have good cause to quit depending on your state’s laws.

Share of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefits. Source: Conversable economist

HOW TO FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT

Your home state determines how you can file for unemployment insurance.

The basic way to file is to find the nearest unemployment office, or with a phone call, but going online is the fastest way to get your claims processed not all states have an online option, but if yours does, you can search for the website online and register. You will need a username and surname to open an account.

Once you’ve contacted the office, they will let you know if you meet the requirements for the benefits, and then you can apply.

The amount you get weekly depends on the system your state uses. Some states have a maximum amount they pay weekly, while some states pay you according to your previous earnings.

During the application process, you will need to present some certain documents and means of identification, like your driver’s license or social security number.

You will also need to provide your recent contact details and company address. The office may ask you a few questions that you are obligated to answer, and then you wait for a confirmation that your claim is being processed.

FACTORS THAT MAKE YOU INELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT

Some factors may disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits.

Even if you think you have good cause, you should ensure you check with your local unemployment office to make sure you are in the clear before you quit.

You can be disqualified from unemployment insurance due to any of the following reasons.

  • If you are self-employed or a contract worker
  • Lack of good cause
  • Insufficient proof of good cause
  • Incorrect or fraudulent information
  • Insufficient length of employment or low wages
  • If you are not ready to work

Youth unemployment over the years. Source: Deloitte

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR EMPLOYER CONTESTS YOUR CLAIM

Most times, good cause is not as easy to prove as it sounds, especially if your employer decides to contest your claim. Since employers pay unemployment taxes based on how many employees they have under unemployment insurance, employers contesting an unemployment claim happens a lot, especially if they don’t think you’re eligible for unemployment. So, before you proceed with quitting, make sure you have enough to prove that you had good cause to quit.

Once you file for unemployment, your employer gets notified, and they have the chance to contest your claim and find a way to disqualify you.

Once that contest is filed, an investigator from the state department of labor will go through your case and gather information from both parties.

You may be called in to give some answers relating to your job. Ensure that you are truthful, and you answer all the questions with enough details and proof if necessary.

After the investigator has collected enough information from both sides, the case will be analyzed, and the unemployment office will decide if you will receive benefits or not.

If your claim is accepted, your employer still has the choice to appeal the decision and will be granted a hearing if the appeal is successful. On the other hand, if your claim is rejected, you will still have a chance to appeal the decision yourself.

If your employer requests a hearing, you will need a legal representative to advise you while you present your case yourself. Both sides can also bring witnesses forward to support the claims and documentation.

This is where all the proof of good cause you gathered will be most useful. Also, to make sure you get the benefits during the appeal process, you should still file your weekly claims.

CONCLUSION

Unemployment insurance is available primarily as a temporary option while looking for work.

While quitting ordinarily disqualifies you from receiving these benefits, you could get them if you had good cause.

To access those benefits, you can contact the state unemployment office to get more information.

Do not write yourself off until you are sure your case does not constitute good cause, and you don’t have any factors that would disqualify you from getting the insurance.

Also, make sure you have the correct documentation and legal advice in case you must prove your case in a hearing.

With the correct information and documentation, you may be able to access those benefits.

Collecting Unemployment When You Quit Your Job: Information On When You Can Get Unemployment Benefits If You Resign

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