Unemployment benefits offer temporary payments to help you make ends meet if you satisfy the state's eligibility requirements. Many unemployment claimants have several dependents, including a spouse. Although supporting your spouse isn't a requirement to collect general unemployment benefits, it is a requirement to collect dependent benefits.
Unemployment Eligibility Requirements
Although state unemployment insurance plans vary, there are a number of general eligibility requirements that apply in all states. First, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own, yet actively seeking new work. You must be able and willing to work. You also have to meet the minimum earned wages threshold set forth by your state's laws.
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However, in light of the recent Coronavirus and Covid-19 global pandemic, the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, allows states to extend unemployment compensation to independent contractors and those who would normally have been otherwise unable to receive unemployment benefits. States are also currently waiving job search requirements for eligibility. For more information on these changes, and how they affect your eligibility, be sure to check with your state's unemployment insurance program.
Working Spouse Exclusion
Although the eligibility requirements vary depending on the state that runs the unemployment insurance program, all of the requirements are based on your work history and your ability to follow the state's requirements. There is never an exclusion for your spouse's work history. In fact, most states don't require you to input information about your marital status at all.
Spousal Benefits for Unemployment
The only time a spouse's employment status is a factor is when you're collecting dependent benefits for her. Dependent benefits are an extra stipend on your unemployment payments based on your financial support of a dependent. You must provide more than half of the financial support for your spouse to qualify and your spouse must be unemployed.
Verifying Spousal Employment
When you apply for dependent benefits for a spouse, the state requires you provide your spouse's name, date of birth and Social Security number. The unemployment division of your state's labor office has access to the state's tax records. It runs the information through its system to verify that no company or organization is reporting your spouse as an employee.
- U.S. Department of Labor: State Unemployment Insurance Benefits
- CEDD: Unemployment Insurance--A Guide to Benefits and Services
- NYSDOL: Unemployment Insurance Information for Claimants
- U.S. Department of Labor: U.S. Department Of Labor Publishes Guidance on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- USDOL: State Labor Offices