Virginia Now Offering Unemployment To Military Spouses

Beginning 1 July 2014, military spouses who have worked in Virginia will be eligible for unemployment compensation if they leave their job to follow their spouse to a new duty station.

Virginia State Senate Bill 18 was passed in March 2014, and broadens the definition of “good cause” for leaving a job.  Voluntary resignation to follow a PCSing active duty spouse will now be considered “good cause” and will therefore allow those former Virginia employees to claim unemployment benefits, provided that the state to which they move provides similar benefits.  After the Virginia law changes on 1 July, this will include every state except Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont.  (Ohio has been working on this issue.)

The non-availability of unemployment has been a regular complaint of military spouses who worked in Virginia and resigned from their job to move with their active duty husband or wife.  This change will be most welcome by those folks!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Mac

    Does this cover PCS orders to go overseas?

  • Kate

    Mac, I think it should. It is still the same situation: you are claiming unemployment in Virginia based upon the fact that you have to leave Virginia due to your spouse’s PCS orders.

    Let us know what happens if you apply.

  • Tmj

    I was just denied. I guess because I’m returning to the states from Overseas and my employment wasn’t in Virginia.

    • Kate

      Tmj, benefits are paid by the state in which you were previously employed. Therefore, you would not be eligible for unemployment benefits from Virginia.

      • Jennifer

        actually you do qualify in the state of VA. I was employed while overseas and applied for benefits when we arrived to VA, and I was approved. Speak to someone at your local unemployment office.

        • Kate

          Thanks, Jennifer, you’ve spurred me to learn some more. It seems that you can file for benefits in the state in which your former employer’s company was based. For example, if you worked for the Navy Exchange, which is based in Virginia, you can claim unemployment in Virginia. Virginia is also able to request that wages earned in other state be transferred and combined with Virginia wages to increase the amount of benefit for which you are eligible.

  • I have my phone hearing to determine eligibility in VA tomorrow morning! I turned in a copy of the PCS orders with the letter of resignation for my teaching position. Let’s see what happens…

  • AMR

    I had my appeal hearing today for benefits. I will let you know the outcome in a few weeks.

    • AMR

      My appeal was denied as I filed my claim early June and the new legislation is effective July 1, 2014. We will appeal this decision and write a letter to the congresswoman who helped this law pass. We will see what happens. Like others this is very frustrating as I am doing everything on my end.

  • pcsmover

    I made a PCS move from Virginia in May, and my wife had to leave her job due to the move. We were rejected for Virginia unemployment, and the letter stated that the law specifically calls out military spouses relocating due to PCS move as an invalid cause for leaving a job. REASON: I can only assume…most likely because the new law didn’t kick in until 1JUL? She had her APPEAL phone hearing last week, so hopefully she’ll hear back soon and is told she’s eligible under the new law. For real, though, they make it as DIFFICULT as humanly possible to get anywhere in the system. It’s been 3.5 months since the move, and we’re STILL nowhere…she isn’t even able to file an online weekly claim until the appeal is finalized. That leaves both of us scratching our heads and wondering: even if she’s approved, will she lose all 3.5 months of claims since she wasn’t allowed to file, or will she be able to claim for the weeks she was in appeal? Either way, she’s submitting applications for jobs constantly and hopefully won’t have a need for much longer. Seriously though, the process is kind of a joke right now…and there is nobody out there to help.

    • Be Ber

      I was in the same situation. I appealed a coupleo f my claims in VA. . Last orders to Califrn. mil husband. I explained to VEC and provided mil orders and + my 30 day notice to my employer and not one claim was approved. I filed for benefits on 5/9/14. I started searching for jobs when I knewwe were leaving VA. I reported my activities w/ my job search w/ VECwhile unemployed from 5/9 – 6/2/14 and still was denied. I am a productive citizzen, supported my mil. husband who served his country & I don’t cheat the govt. Even a month’s worth of unemployment wouldve helped us financially . I was stressed out during the time of our move. VEC doesnt have a clue what we go through. Because I didn’t feel that was right for VEC to deny my benefit, I recently put my letters together to complain to the politicians and the dept. mailed out 9/19/14

  • AMR

    Curious to see what your outcome is. My family is in a very similar scenario, however I have still been able to submit my weekly claims despite waiting on an appeal. This week I was denied again but still can make a weekly claim with the hope it will eventually be approved.

    Good luck

  • PCS

    I was denied unemployment in VA. My spouse PCDs overseas but not allowed to bring dependents so I moved to my home town. Unemployment stated I left voluntarily.

    • Kate

      I can definitely see this as being a loophole. The law was written to address military spouses who quit their jobs to PCS with their active duty husband or wife. Since you couldn’t go with your spouse, you don’t fit under the law.

      I’m sorry it has worked out this way for you, but it does make sense.

  • Candice

    Has anyone heard anything back regarding their appeal? I had my phone appeal today regarding me leaving my teaching job to go with my husband to a new duty station.

  • Amr

    The law took effect July 1, 2014. Because my case is dated In June my appeal was denied. I am going to appeal again to change my effective date to July 1.

  • Richard

    Hey folks do not give up! Just be calm and pay attention to the details. Some things take a little more time to get processed. Besides he have more to gain with this new law. Back in 84 the state would not let my spouse file either so see time is on your side now. Good luck and keep the faith

  • Trp

    I was also denied by Virginia because I had filed on June 29 (after hours). I appealed and just received the letter that I was again denied. I can appeal once more and it will go to a higher level, I am told. I will try to appeal and see if they will change my effective date to July 1, as suggested by Amr. If that doesn’t work, I will file a new claim. But I would hate all those weeks I have been filing a weekly claim to go to waste. Kindly update if any of your appeals work so we can all be guided with how to proceed. Thanks!

  • Kate

    Readers, I will be interested to see what happens with your cases that straddle the 1 July 2014 implementation of the law. I didn’t see anything written about what would happen to those cases. I can see legal arguments for a determination in either direction (either allowing or disallowing benefits for spouses who left their jobs prior to 1 July but did not obtain new employment until after 1 July.)

    Please keep in mind that unemployment is a benefit, not a right. Yes, it is funded by a tax on your employer based upon your employment, but it has rules that have to be followed. And it is very recent that any unemployment benefits were available for trailing spouses. Most older spouses I’ve asked have NEVER been eligible for unemployment; the risk of losing a job due to following your spouse due to PCS was just one of those things that comes with military life.

    This situation is one of the reasons that I counsel my clients to build their financial plans around having just one income.

    Let us know the outcome of your situations.

  • Melanie

    We are PCSing to germany in Dec …..I have been working in Virginia for almost 2 years now….Will I be able to apply for unemployment? I have never filed for it when we PCSed before but now that I know I can I will…where do I start the process ????thanks

    • Kate

      Melanie, as I understand the new law, you should be eligible for unemployment as long as you are seeking work when you PCS. You should call the Virginia Employment Commission for more information. They also have a very useful website. Good luck on your move!

    • MiKayla

      We are PCSing to Guam in January and I too have been working in Virginia for over 2 years. As far as I know, we will be able to apply for unemployment, but I do not know the process either. Hopefully it isn’t too hard to apply and get accepted. From what I hear, most people have to appeal more than once, which is unfortunate. Let us know how it goes as I am extremely curious to see! Good luck!

    • Melanie

      So I applied and got denied. Going to appeal……

  • Jay

    Has anyone been granted Unemployment Benefits after the July 1 date? I am preparing to appeal their decision (even tho we moved under PCS orders). Thanks in advance!

  • Sarah

    My husband and I are PCSing to VA in january. He’s a NAF employee over here at kadena AB currently, he was told that he will be approved for unemployment when we arrive in VA. Is this correct information? Thank you.

  • CLG

    I was denied and filed 2 appeals. I was denied a third time by the Virginia Employment Commission. I gave notice on 04/15/2014, last day of work 04/25/2014, report no later than date to France was 07/11/2014 (our PCS location). We had 2 sets of movers come to our house, the first week of June and the second week of June, 2014. When not out in the field I worked from a home office. I was denied because (their opinion): “I did not quit work to follow my spouse to France, but I quit work to attend medical appointments before our PCS (I was out of vacation and these were mandatory so that my husband could get his orders to PCS) and also I quit early to visit family in 3 states before we left the U.S. for France”. So my advice is that if you plan to quit before you PCS, you better work as close as you can up to the date that you move or your claim will be denied. This is the first time in 30 years of my husband’s military career that I have filed for unemployment. I am very upset at the commission’s expectations and it seems that they do not understand the procedures that a family must go through for an overseas move for a military family.

  • Christy

    I’ve noticed that most of your appeals/denials were made during the July 2014 transition. Our PCS move from VA to NC will be in July 2015. Has anyone successfully gotten benefits for claims made AFTER July 2014? Reason I’m asking, if you look at the 2015 version of qualifications to receive benefits on the VA Unemployment site, question 25 on the FAQ- the verbiage STILL says “VA law specifies that any individual who voluntarily leaves his/her employment to accompany or join a spouse in a new locality be disqualified for benefits…the law makes no distinction between military reassignment…” You’d think that a law that took place mid-2014 would have been updated on the 2015 eligibility requirements…