While it’s not unusual to work in more than one state during a given year, it makes your unemployment claim more complicated if you do. Multi-state unemployment requires several states to work together when determining your claim status and distributing your payments. Based on the information provided by your liable states, the agent state takes your continued claims and distributes your payments. The process for multi-state claims may take longer and require extra documentation than that for single-state cases.

Multi-State Unemployment

Workers move from state to state all the time. With the rise of telecommuting work, it’s also more common for workers to live in one state but work in another. Multi-state unemployment is a situation where you worked in more than one state during your base period, which is the first four of the last five full calendar quarters before you filed for benefits.

Agent State

In a multi-state unemployment claim, the state you currently live in is the agent state. The agent state is the one that manages your unemployment claim. You apply to that state for benefits, explaining that your 15 to 18 months of previous wages were in other states. Once the agent state hears back from those states, verifying your eligibility and compensation amounts, it distributes your payments. It also handles the weekly claims certifications and verifies your job search requirements.

Liable State

The liable states are the ones that you worked in during your base period. These are the states your former employer paid his payroll taxes to based on your salary, so their state unemployment insurance funds are the ones that will fund your claim. Each state has its own eligibility requirements and formula for calculating benefits. You must meet your liable states' requirements and abide by their regulations to collect benefits.

Things to Remember

Multi-state unemployment claims are different than the straightforward single-state claims. Often your agent state won’t allow you to file your claim online; rather, you may have to call a claims line. You also may need to provide more information about your previous work than someone who worked in one state because your agent state won’t have all your work records in its state tax system. You may need proof of work, such as pay stubs and W-2 tax forms. These claims also take longer because your agent state has to communicate with your liable states and receive their decisions on your claim.