If you are a former member of the U.S. military, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) program. The unemployment insurance program is administered by each state, as agents of the Federal government. There is no payroll deduction from your wages for unemployment insurance protection while you served in the military. 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, or a commissioned officer of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), during the base period of your claim
- Honorably discharged
- Completed the first full term of service for which you enlisted, or if a Reservist, completed 180 days of continuous active duty
- Meet all other state eligibility requirements
If you want to apply for this unemployment benefit, you must file from the state you reside in. All states will have different application requirements.
How Do I 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, you should have copies of your D.D. Form 214 and Social Security card handy.
Some states may not allow you to be paid unemployment compensation if you draw retirement pay; others may reduce the amount of the unemployment benefit depending on the amount of compensation you receive as a result of military service.
Where Do I 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 challenging to locate on some state employment websites. It’s simpler to begin your search by typing “military unemployment” in the website’s 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. In addition, 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.”
It’s important to note that if you make mistakes in applying for unemployment benefits, it can delay 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 ensure you get any benefits you are eligible for without a long wait.
VA Programs for Unemployed Vets
There are also vocational readiness and employment programs available to veterans, some of which may be offered for a limited time. 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, you must register by mail or via an eBenefits account and register there under the Vocational Readiness and Employment section (choose “Education and Career Counseling”).
Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.