Job Search Tips – Can I Collect Unemployment If I Relocate?

The unemployment process and filing is not a much anticipated discussion.  However, for those that are faced with a reorganization, restructure, or layoff, it is a common question that is not often addressed by career experts or coaches.

A recent reader from my blog, Blogging4Jobs asked, “I was just laid off on 4/8. I live in Texas and if I can would like to find a job here. If by the end of May I do not have any success, I would like to relocate to California as my children live there (I am divorced).  My question is, can I relocate and collect unemployment there until I find a job?”

This is a frequent question from my readers and job seekers who tune into my weekly Job Search Secrets Webshow.  Job seekers often consider all their options when looking for employment after being displaced.  Sometimes we, as job seekers, are re-evaluating our priorities and choose to relocate for personal reasons and other times job seekers are moving to regions and cities where the employment picture is more pleasant.  Whatever the reason, this question is not unusual and is certainly one worth addressing.

The answer is yes, you can relocate and continue to collect unemployment.  State requirements vary, however, so it is extremely important to visit your new local employment office as soon as possible and let them know you wish to transfer your unemployment benefits.  The internet is extremely helpful as well, and I recommend that you visit the current state where you collect unemployment as well as the new state you are relocating to.  For example, if you are relocating to Alaska, you can visit their FAQ section of their website to learn about UI benefits in Alaska if you have relocated.

Most states will need time to re-evaluate your unemployment benefits upon relocation, which is one of the reasons why it is so very important to do your homework prior to renting and packing the U-Haul.  I also recommend that you have some money socked away to cover expenses while the state processes your UI transfer request.  Just like when you initially file for unemployment and prior to its approval, you may go a period of several weeks without payment.  It’s important to prepare for that possibility on the front end versus the back.  This makes your move and transition much more pleasant.

One of my most popular blog posts is from November 2008 where I list the Weekly Maximum Unemployment Benefits by State.  Visit your state’s unemployment benefits page to obtain the most up to date weekly unemployment benefits information.  Most websites also provide you information about the UI claim’s process including the ability to file UI online, by phone, and the review process and unemployment hearing.  Having an understanding of the entire process is important in order to plan, protect, and prepare you and your family as you start this new chapter.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is known as @Blogging4Jobs on Twitter, is a published author of “Tweet This! Twitter for Business” and  is a leading HR blogger and new media strategist.  Jessica is a subject matter expert and provides insights in the areas of  HR, recruiting, and new media consultancy with her company, Xceptional HR.  Her newest project is Texting4Jobs, a text based job board platform recently launched in Oklahoma.

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