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Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Family Caregivers: An Analysis of State Rules and Practices

Published: April 09, 2015
Authors: Liz Ben-Ishai, Center for Law and Social Policy; Rick McHugh, National Employment Law Project, and Kathleen Ujvari, AARP Public Policy Institute


A rapidly growing number of older people and adults with chronic illness and disabling conditions receive care from unpaid family members. Many of these family caregivers are also employed outside the home. While some are able to alter their work schedules or take time off from their jobs to provide hands-on care, such as help with bathing, eating, and managing medications, others are compelled to leave their jobs, or are fired for reasons related to their family caregiving responsibilities. In these cases, family caregivers may be able to seek assistance from some state unemployment insurance programs. Yet few resources are available to help family caregivers and advocates understand the intricacies of these programs. Drawing on legal analysis, in-depth interviews with advocates and unemployment insurance officials, and analysis of available data, this paper presents detailed information on the policies and practices in place in state unemployment insurance programs that provide potential temporary financial assistance to family caregivers.