Your state labor office requires unemployment insurance claimants to prove eligibility to receive benefits. A number of medical conditions can prevent you from meeting these requirements, including going through cancer treatment. Depending on the type and intensity of cancer treatment, you may not meet all of the unemployment qualifications. In particular, reason for job separation, ability to work and availability to work may prove to be difficult for you during your treatment.
Reason for Job Separation
To collect unemployment benefits, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own. The definition of fault here isn’t that you did something wrong but that you are the reasoning for the job separation. The reason that you are unemployed must be something attributed to your employer instead of you. So, if you are unemployed because your illness or the treatment makes it difficult for you to work, you aren't eligible for benefits. On the other hand, if your employer doesn’t have enough work for you, you can collect benefits.
Ability to Work
Another concern for your unemployment eligibility during cancer treatment would be your ability to work. You must be physically able to perform work to receive unemployment benefits. Now, what that means depends on your employment skills. If you’re a construction worker, you may be too ill to work during cancer treatment and physically unable to perform your trade. However, if you are a copywriter, your cancer treatments might still allow you to physically perform work because it’s a sedentary profession.
Availability to Work
Although many claimants confuse the two, ability to work and availability are separate eligibility requirements. Your cancer treatments may require you to be unavailable to work due to anything from long chemotherapy sessions in a hospital or frequent doctor’s appointments. So, while you may still be able to perform work reasonably, you are unavailable to work due to previously scheduled medical appointments. In most states, you must be available to work full-time hours, so being unavailable to work would mean that your illness prevented you from working 40 hours a week.
Proving Your Eligibility
When you first apply for benefits, the state labor office will require you to answer questions about your eligibility. If its review of your circumstances calls your eligibility into question, you may have to provide evidence that you are eligible. For example, the state labor office will contact your former employer to verify the job separation reason. If the former employer says that you left because of your illness, you’d have to submit information that contradicts that, such as a witness statement or memo. If your availability or ability to work is called into question, you might submit a notarized statement from your doctor that backs your claim.
Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.