Maternity Leave Unemployment: Collecting Other Benefits

Being out on unpaid maternity leave does not qualify you to collect unemployment benefits.

You must find alternative ways to replace income or reduce expenses while recuperating or bonding with your newborn baby.

Critical Points

You must meet four universal criteria to qualify for unemployment.

  1. Without a job
  2. Physically able to work
  3. Available for employment
  4. Actively seeking a new job

Parents eligible for unpaid FMLA still have their jobs. Mothers are unable to work while on doctor-ordered rest, and parents are unavailable for work while bonding with their newborns.

Unemployment During Pregnancy

Women laid off while pregnant can get unemployment pay if they can work. However, what if the doctor says to rest in bed or take leave early? Then, you cannot work and become ineligible.

It would help if you found another way to replace lost income.

Money For Bills

Being ineligible for unemployment during unpaid maternity leave has a silver lining. The lost income can help you qualify for other benefits, lowering household expenses.

Government money for personal bills can significantly reduce your living costs. The income projected on next year’s tax return could make you eligible for financial assistance with housing, groceries, childcare, energy, internet services, medical care, repairs, and more.

Temporary Disability

During pregnancy leave, it is better to apply for state temporary disability instead of unemployment. If the doctor says you must stop working, you qualify for disability and become ineligible for unemployment.

Apply for temporary disability pay if your state requires it. Women who cannot work during pregnancy leave have an excellent reason to file a claim. The form will ask your doctor to sign, saying why your health prevents you from doing your job.

However, this option only works if your state has temporary disability pay. Most do not offer it. Only these nine states will give money to employees who cannot physically do their jobs.

HawaiiMassachusettsNew Jersey
New YorkRhode IslandWashington

Maternity Leave Loans

A maternity leave loan can help mothers in the 41 states without temporary disability pay. You will need to pay the money back.

Filing for unemployment is unlikely to succeed if you can’t work due to health issues from your pregnancy. Borrowing money may be your only option.

Ask for a personal loan to help with bills while on unpaid leave. Mothers with job protection under FMLA can borrow without worry. They know they can pay the money back once they return to their jobs.

Short-Term Disability

A private short-term disability plan is another option instead of unemployment pay during pregnancy leave. Check with your workplace’s HR department to see if you have this coverage.

You can buy short-term disability insurance while pregnant, but it will not cover maternity leave. The policy will not pay for pre-existing conditions until you have coverage for 12 months.

Unemployment After Childbirth

It will be hard to get unemployment pay after first having a baby. You cannot work due to recovering from childbirth. And you are not available for work while bonding with your newborn.

Paid Family Leave

It is better to apply for paid family leave instead of unemployment after having a baby. You are unavailable for work while caring for your newborn. This dilemma allows you to get family leave if it is available. But it means you cannot get unemployment pay.

State Programs

Apply for paid family leave if your state offers it. New parents can get this money after having a baby. They qualify for these benefits even though they are unavailable for work.

Paid family leave may be available for:

  • Giving birth and caring for a newborn child
  • Adopting or fostering a child
  • Caring for a family member with a severe health condition

This option only works if your state has paid family leave. Most states do not offer it. Only these nine states will pay employees who cannot work due to caretaking.

MassachusettsMinnesota (2026)New Jersey
New YorkRhode IslandWashington

Federal Employees

Apply for paid parental leave if you work for the federal government. This option is better than filing for unemployment via Standard Form 8 (SF8). You are unavailable for work while bonding with your newborn.

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) provides full pay for up to 12 weeks. You can use this benefit to bond with a new baby or adopt/foster a child. You must be an eligible employee under FMLA.

State Government

If you work for the state or county government, apply for paid parental leave. Strong unions have often won this benefit for many government employees in different areas.

We found these states offering paid leave to government employees but not to people working at private companies – even though these taxpayers fund the program.



You may qualify for unemployment pay after having a baby in states with laws that allow absenteeism under specific circumstances. Some states don’t reject workers who lose jobs through no fault of their own, such as if they:

  • Are physically unable to work due to a disability
  • Need to care for a sick family member, making them unavailable

Of course, you must first meet these primary requirements:

  1. Be currently without a job
  2. Have recovered from childbirth and be physically able to work
  3. Have arranged childcare so you are available for work
  4. Be actively looking for a new job

Check your state’s laws. Apply if the rules in your location are favorable.

Good Cause Disability

You may qualify for unemployment after recovering from childbirth if your state allows absences due to disability. Some states will excuse those who lost jobs through no fault of their own if they were physically unable to work.

 We found twelve states that consider disability a good cause reason.

South CarolinaTexasUtah

Good Cause Care Taking

You may qualify for unemployment after arranging childcare if your state allows time off for caretaking. Some states would excuse those who lost jobs through no fault of their own if they were unavailable for work due to family care.

We found these thirteen states considering the care of a sick family member a good cause reason.  

IllinoisMinnesotaNew York
OregonRhode IslandSouth Carolina