Can You File for Unemployment If You Have Money in the Bank?

Losing a job while holding money in a bank account doesn't mean you can't file unemployment.

When a person works, he typically tries to put money into a savings or checking account for the added security and flexibility doing so provides. You should not worry about money saved in bank accounts if you lose your job and want to file for unemployment. You still have the right to file regardless of what your bank account balance is.


Bank Money and Unemployment Insurance

Filing for unemployment insurance benefits technically is not connected to the amount of money you have in the bank. The reason for this is that unemployment is designed to protect the financial stability of all able-bodied workers who have lost a job through no fault of their own -- that is, the reason why you left work, not your savings, is the primary eligibility determinant. The Department of Labor recognizes that, if you have been employed, you may have money from previous wages or other sources in bank account you have not spent and to which you are fully entitled. It does not assume, however, that those monies will be sufficient to sustain you through your unemployed period.


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Although you can have money in the bank when you file for unemployment, you cannot continue to draw a significant amount of earnings while you collect benefits. The amount you can earn while collecting benefits varies from state to state, but generally, you cannot work more than part time while getting aid. You must report changes in income to your local unemployment insurance office to ensure you receive the proper benefit amount. You may save any income you receive while on unemployment in any bank account of your choice.


Other Requirements

If you have money in your bank account, you still must meet the other requirements for unemployment before you file. To qualify for unemployment, you must have earned the minimum amount or worked the minimum hours set by your state for one base period. A base period is the first four of the five calendar quarters prior to your filing in most instances. You must be willing and able to work and, depending on state requirements, usually have to file with your state employment agency for training or employment opportunities.


The Bottom Line

When filing unemployment, it is your income, not your savings, that determines whether you can collect benefits. You have a right to file unemployment regardless of what you've saved, assuming you meet the basic filing requirements for your state. However, because income is connected to bank accounts, and because you have to report changes to income, you'll likely have to give the unemployment office data about the status of the bank account to properly show your cash flow and assets.