Moving Advice

Moving? Don’t Leave Unemployment Benefits Behind

If you have been out of work for an extended period of time, you may wonder if you’d be better off moving somewhere else. After all, the cost of living may be cheaper, or the job market might look better.

Related article: 10 Things to Do after Getting Laid off to Protect Your Finances

However, you may hesitate because you do not want to risk losing your unemployment benefits. In fact, there is nothing in the law or in the tax code that prevents you from moving in order to explore job prospects.

It really is that simple. You will not lose unemployment benefits to which you are legally entitled if you do make a move. You may even qualify for a break on your federal income taxes if you are able to find full-time work after you move.

The Interstate Reciprocal Benefit Payment Plan

Regardless of where you move within the US, if you are entitled to collect unemployment benefits, you still can. This is because all fifty states and the District of Columbia participate in the Interstate Reciprocal Benefit Payment Plan. This means that you can collect your benefits no matter where you are, so long as you remain eligible.

The Agent State and the Liable State

When filing or maintaining an unemployment claim in a new state, there are two essential terms to remember: agent state and liable state. The agent state is the state to which you have moved. This is where you will file an initial claim if necessary. The liable state is the state where you were working before you lost your job. The liable state will actually pay your claim.

Many states allow you to file and maintain your unemployment insurance claim by telephone and internet. If you’re in one of these states, you will continue to collect your unemployment payment as usual. But you will need to inform the liable state of your move before you leave the state. There may be special procedures that you must follow. (

Filing for Unemployment Benefits

If you are not eligible to file for unemployment benefits from the liable state online or by phone, schedule an appointment to visit an unemployment office. Explain your circumstances when you call to make the appointment.

On the day of your appointment, bring copies of your pay stubs and any paperwork relating to your unemployment claims. An officer at the agent state will file your initial benefits on your behalf. Once the liable state responds, you will receive the proper paperwork to continue filing for benefits from the liable state. From that point, the process associated with collecting unemployment benefits is the same as for any other worker. As a result, your interactions with the agent state concerning your benefits will be sharply limited.

Possible Tax Benefits

If you move out of state and are successful in finding a new job, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses on your federal income tax return. But there are some criteria to be eligible:

  • You must begin the new job within one year from the date of your move.
  • The new job must be at least 50 miles further from your old home than your old job was.
  • You must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during that first year, though not necessarily consecutively or at the same job.

If you choose to become self-employed after you move, you may still be able to deduct your moving expenses. You must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months after your move. You may work for an employer for part of the time and you may change your line of work.

If you are eligible, you can deduct the cost of moving your personal effects and those of your family members, including your car to your new location. You may also deduct your travel expenses and those of your household members, including temporary lodging. (Bankrate)

Moving to a new state doesn’t mean you have to give up your unemployment benefits, but it does mean you’ll have to update your records.