The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) program entitles former U.S. military personnel to unemployment benefits. The unemployment insurance program is administered by each state as agents of the Federal government. While serving there is no payroll deduction from your wages for unemployment insurance protection. Benefits are paid for by the various branches of the military.
Who Is Eligible For UCX?
In general, you may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Were on duty with a branch of the U.S. military
- Former members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Honorably discharged
- Actively seeking a job
- Not on terminal leave
“Terminal leave” specifically refers to the final leave a military member takes before retiring or separating from service.
Service members who want to apply for this unemployment benefit are required to file from the state they reside in, and all states will have different application requirements.
How To Apply For Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)
This unemployment benefit is not standardized; terms and conditions will vary depending on state law where you apply. The state will determine the protocols for applications and approval. You may be required to apply online, or you may have the option of a paper submission. In all cases, veterans should expect a requirement supply the following paperwork:
- Discharge paperwork (DD Form 214 or its’ equivalent)
- Social Security card
- Current resume
Some states may not allow veterans to be paid unemployment compensation if they draw retirement pay; others may reduce the amount of the unemployment benefit depending on the amount of compensation the veteran receives as a result of military service.
Where To Apply For Unemployment Compensation After Leaving Military Service
Your state’s Employment Office will have the necessary forms and instructions to apply for UCX.
If you need to locate your state employment office, the DoD official site CareerOneStop features a search tool that can help you find the one nearest you.
What You Should Know About UCX
This program can be difficult to locate on some state employment websites. It’s simpler to begin your search by typing “military unemployment” in the websites search section where applicable. You should also download a copy of your state’s unemployment benefits handbook or similar publications that describe the state’s unemployment program in detail. You will likely find a special section that outlines programs for military members.
For example, the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Handbook has a special section on page 19 titled “U.S. Military Veterans” which includes this information useful to anyone seeking unemployment compensation after military service:
“Your benefit rights will be determined by the law of the state in which you first file a claim for unemployment insurance and establish a benefit year after your last separation from active military service. To establish a benefit year, you must have had a certain amount of active service in the armed forces within the base period applicable to that benefit year”.
The same booklet warns that making mistakes in applying for unemployment benefits can result in a delay of those benefits. If there is a hotline or other assistance available to you, it’s best to get help with your initial paperwork filing to insure you get any benefits you are eligible for without a long wait.
VA Programs For Unemployed Vets
There are vocational rehabilitation and employment programs available to veterans, some of which may be offered for a limited time. According to the VA official site, these programs (commonly referred to as “VR&E“) are open to:
- Transitioning Servicemembers within six months prior to discharge from active duty.
- Veterans within one year following discharge from active duty.
- Any Servicemember/Veteran currently eligible for a VA education benefit.
- All current VA education beneficiaries.
To take advantage of these benefits, veterans must register by mail or via an eBenefits account and register there under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment section (choose “Education and Career Counseling”).
Those registering by mail need to complete VA Form 28-8832 and send it to the nearest VA Regional Office, Attention: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.