Do You Lose Unemployment If You Go To Jail?

Yes, unless there are exceptional circumstances, your state will suspend your unemployment benefits if you are sentenced to prison.  

You cannot demonstrate that you are able to work, accessible to work, and actively seeking a job if you are incarcerated. As a result, you will not qualify for unemployment benefits. This is even if you have been receiving unemployment benefits before you entered prison.

Find out why you lose unemployment if you go to jail and the possibility of receiving unemployment benefits after jail time. 

Can unemployment find out you’re in jail?

Yes, the unemployment agency can find out you’re in jail.

This is because there is a system with jail data that the EDD (Employment Development Department) Department has access to.

They can determine if you have been imprisoned or have unreported wages by using this in addition to gathering employment data from employers. 

Therefore, it’s critical that you report such legal issues to prevent participating in unemployment insurance fraud.

For the period of your imprisonment, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Since being imprisoned is a punishment for breaking social standards, a prisoner is denied all social rights.

Can you go to jail for collecting unemployment while working? 

Yes, it is a sort of insurance fraud that may be punishable by imprisonment when you receive both unemployment benefits and salary while working.


A person who seeks to claim benefits while working causes a piece of relevant information to be omitted in this situation. The important piece of information that such a person omits is that he/she is employed.

However, not every individual accused of doing this is deliberately exploiting the system. You may have been eligible for unemployment benefits in the past and then started working a few months later. 

Additionally, you can forget to inform the agency that you secured employment. You later receive a payment in the mail and believe that you are still eligible for benefits despite having found employment. 

So, despite the fact that you are employed, you continue to cash these checks without giving them any thought.

In this situation, it will be assumed by the law that you were aware of or ought to have known that continuing to receive unemployment benefits is prohibited by your employment status.

What disqualifies you from unemployment benefits?

Generally speaking, to qualify for unemployment insurance, you must not be to blame for your current state of unemployment. 

That means you won’t be eligible for benefits if you were dismissed for being dishonest or quit before having a new employment opportunity lined up, although there are some exceptions.

Here are some reasons that disqualify you from receiving benefits

Unjustified resignation

This includes leaving your work to pursue training, higher education, or even founding a nonprofit organization. In such cases, it’s unlikely that you will qualify for unemployment benefits. 

However, you can receive unemployment benefits after resigning if you can demonstrate that you had a strong motivation to quit.

When you resign for a good reason, it’s because your situation requires it. This is referred to as constructive discharge. This is what happens when your employer makes work toxic or unbearable for you to continue working.

Examples include neglecting to address hazardous working conditions, and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or religion. It can also be a failure to stop sexual harassment. 

When you resign under these circumstances, it’s likely possible you do not wish to do so but feel that you have no other option.

Misconduct termination

If you lose your job due to wrongdoing, such as theft from your employer or coworkers. Willfully breaking workplace safety laws, and also refusing a required drug test will disqualify you from unemployment insurance.

If you were incarcerated, you might also not be able to prove that your unemployment was not your fault.

After being charged with or convicted of a crime, your employer may proceed to terminate you. In that case, you might be to blame for your unemployment.

Do convicts receive unemployment benefits after jail time? 

Your state will stop your unemployment benefits if you are sent to jail, with the exception of a few very unusual situations. Your benefits may be restored after your release but only if you are able to abide by the regulations.

In order to reinstate the benefits, you must first demonstrate that you are not to blame for your unemployment. Secondly, you need to demonstrate that you were making enough money from your work before you lost the job. 

You must also show that you are competent in working, accessible to work, and actively seeking a job as the third criterion. Most states have criteria that are comparable or identical.

Numerous stages of assessment are frequently used to scrutinize applications for unemployment benefits. You also have the option to appeal if your original application is rejected, as this frequently occurs.


How do you prove that you’re eligible for unemployment benefits?

You should gather as much supporting evidence for your claims that you are entitled to benefits as you can in order to make the strongest possible case.

You may be able to present witnesses in support of your case, according to how your state handles unemployment hearings.

Can you file for unemployment benefits on behalf of someone in jail?

No, you cannot collect unemployment on someone’s behalf.

If someone else applies for unemployment benefits on a prisoner’s behalf, whether that person is the prisoner’s immediate kin, spouse, or friend, it is deemed a crime of fraud and deception that could result in jail time.

What is the penalty for unemployment fraud?

Each state must impose a fine of at least 15% of the fraudulent payment’s total value.

Other consequences include being charged with a crime, which carries fines and/or jail time, having to pay back fraudulently obtained benefits, and/or losing your eligibility for unemployment benefits permanently.


Going to jail automatically means you forfeit all social rights pending the time of your incarceration. This means that you also lose the right to receive unemployment insurance benefits. 

Additionally, while in jail, it is not advisable to have someone else file it on your behalf, as it is considered UI fraud. UI fraud when discovered by the agency can result in some fines. It can also permanently stop you from receiving unemployment after jail and more jail time. 

Finally, while you may lose the right to unemployment as a result of jail, you may still be able to appeal it or receive other welfare benefits after serving time.

Learning the difference between welfare and unemployment will help you understand what needs to be done. 

I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.