Unemployment Compensation for Military Spouses 2009 Legislation

 

Last Updated: January 27, 2010

NCSL Staff Contact: Brooke Oleen or Jim Reed, (303) 364-7700, Denver

Military families often face frequent moves and these moves can add unique financial pressures, as spouses may have to leave their employment due to a military transfer and the families may face a reduction in income. Generally speaking, when an individual leaves a job voluntarily, then the person is ineligible for unemployment benefits. 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. In several states, state legislators deem it good cause if military spouses leave their employment to follow their spouses in a military relocation, and thus eligible for unemployment benefits.

Eight bills were introduced in seven states during the 2009 legislative session. Arkansas, Colorado, Virginia and Wyoming enacted legislation. In Arkansas, Colorado and Virginia, the legislation amended statutory provisions already in place.

 

Please note the summary should be used for general informational purposes and not as a legal reference.
NCSL is unable to provide guidance to citizens or businesses regarding unemployment compensation benefits.  Please contact your state department of labor or consult with a private attorney.

 

AL | AR | CO | HI | OH | VA | WY
STATES
Bill Summary:
Alabama
Allows persons who leave employment to be with spouses who have been transferred by the military to receive unemployment benefits.
Alaska
none
Arizona
none
Arkansas
Signed by governor 4/3/09, Act 802
Amends various provisions of the Department of Workforce Services law; concerning disqualification for voluntarily leaving work, the bill deletes the provision that allows individuals to claim unemployment compensation when moving with a military spouse to a new duty station and adds a provision that allows claims for accompanying an individual’s spouse because of a change in the location of the spouse’s employment that makes it impractical to commute.
California
none
Colorado
Signed by governor 3/25/09, Chapter 65
Allows the surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed forces who is killed in combat to claim a full award of unemployment insurance benefits if the surviving spouse: (i) Relocates to a new place of residence after the death of his or her active duty military spouse; (ii) Is unable to commute to his or her current employment from the new place of residence; and (iii) Is available for suitable work upon arrival at the new place of residence. Requires the director of the Division of Employment and Training (division) in the Department of Labor and Employment to adopt rules to allow for a waiver of the obligation to actively seek work for individuals who are eligible for benefits under this act. Specifies that the benefits are to be charged to the unemployment compensation fund rather than the employer. Requires the division to track the number of claims made and the amounts awarded to surviving spouses and to submit an annual report to the Business Affairs and Labor Committee of the House of Representatives and the Business, Labor, and Technology Committee of the Senate, or their successor committees, detailing the number of claimants and amounts awarded. Repeals the eligibility for benefits, effective July 1, 2019.
Connecticut
none
Delaware
none
District of Columbia
none
Florida
none
Georgia
none
Guam
none
Hawaii
Removes the disqualification for unemployment benefits where the separation was voluntary if the separation was due to a military spouse's reassignment to a different geographic location.
Idaho
none
Illinois
none
Indiana
none
Iowa
none
Kansas
none
Kentucky
none
Louisiana
none
Maine
none
Maryland
none
Massachusetts
none
Michigan
none
Minnesota
none
Mississippi
none
Missouri
none
Montana
none
Nebraska
none
Nevada
none
New Hampshire
none
New Jersey
none
New Mexico
none
New York
none
North Carolina
none
North Dakota
none
Ohio
Passed House 12/16/09
Amends §4141.29 of the Revised Code to permit persons who quit work to accompany the person's spouse on a military transfer to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.
Oklahoma
none
Oregon
none
Pennsylvania
none
Puerto Rico
none
Rhode Island
none
South Carolina
none
South Dakota
none
Tennessee
none
Texas
none
Utah
none
Vermont
none
Virginia
Signed by governor 5/6/09, Chapter 878
Provides that good cause for leaving employment exists if an employee voluntarily leaves a job to accompany the employee's spouse, who is on active duty in the military or naval services of the United States, to a new military-related assignment established pursuant to a permanent change of duty order from which the employee's place of employment is not reasonably accessible. The measure applies only if the state to which the spouse is transferred has a similar provision, unless the transfer involves members of the Virginia National Guard relocated within the Commonwealth. Benefits paid to qualifying claimants shall be charged against the pool rather than against the claimant's employer. The measure shall become effective if the federal government appropriates funds for this purpose.
Washington
none
West Virginia
none
Wisconsin
none
Wyoming
Signed by governor 3/6/09, Chapter 161
Authorizes unemployment benefits for eligible spouses of deployed military personnel as specified.