Collecting Unemployment When You Quit Your Job

Information on When You Can Get Unemployment Benefits If You Resign

woman fired from job, carrying box of belongings
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Are you still eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit your job? The answer is complicated and depends on the reason you quit. If you quit for what is known as “good cause” you may be eligible. Also, since unemployment programs are administered by states, your eligibility may vary depending on where you live. 

In most cases, if you quit your job voluntarily, you will not be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. If you plan to rely on unemployment benefits while looking for a new job, research your eligibility before you take the irreversible step of quitting.

Getting Unemployment When You Quit Your Job

Unemployment benefits are intended to bridge the gap between one job and the next, providing workers with monetary payments for a period of time determined by the state they live in, or until they find a new job.

These benefits are intended for workers who suffer an unexpected loss in income due to layoffs, or in some cases, due to being fired. In most cases, if you quit voluntarily, you are not eligible for these benefits. However, if you resign for good cause you may be able to collect unemployment benefits.

What Is Good Cause?

There are many valid reasons to quit a job, such as lack of advancement opportunities, poor hours, or tedious responsibilities, that do not meet the legal definition of "good cause."

In general, having good cause for resigning means there are unsolvable problems with the work, which leave an employee with no other options beyond quitting. Additionally, it needs to be documented that the employer was made aware of the situation, and made no effort to rectify it. Some examples of good cause are:

  • unsafe work conditions
  • lack of payment
  • change in job duties
  • discrimination
  • harassment

Some types of family emergencies are also considered good cause.

Determining Your Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Good cause is determined by your state unemployment office, and it varies from state to state. For instance, some states consider quitting due to a spouse's new out-of-state job as good cause, while others only consider that good cause if the move is due to a spouse's military transfer.

When you file for unemployment, you will be able to make a case for why you are eligible for unemployment benefits if the employer contests your claim. If your claim is denied, you should be entitled to a hearing where you can plead your case.

If you are planning to quit your job and you are not sure whether you're eligible, check with your state unemployment office to determine your eligibility for unemployment compensation. They can help you to assess your case for claiming good cause.

Appealing an Unemployment Claim Denial

If you have filed an unemployment benefits claim and your claim is turned down or contested by your employer, you have the right to appeal the denial of your unemployment claim. Here's how to file an unemployment appeal, including what paperwork you'll need, timing, and other important factors.

If you have questions about what your state regards as good cause, your state's unemployment office is the best resource. While their websites have a great deal of information, a phone call is often the best way to get a clear and definitive answer to your questions.

Advice on Quitting Your Job

Are you planning to resign from your job? Here's how to quit, from what you need to consider beforehand to advise on the best way to communicate this big news to your employer. Make sure to follow simple do's and don'ts of resigning — for instance, you'll want to make sure to clean your computer and remove any personal documents before giving notices. It's also best to avoid bad-mouthing your co-workers or manager, and boasting about your next steps. 

Ideally, you will inform your supervisor of the news in person. If that's not possible, a phone call is your next best option, followed by email. Regardless of how you inform your supervisor that you are resigning, you should follow up with a formal resignation letter — review these sample letters, as well as these tips for writing a resignation letter