Can You Get Unemployment After Leaving the Service?

 Money changes hands. (Air Force Photo)

If you are a servicemember recently separated from active duty you may qualify for unemployment compensation if you are unable to find a new job. The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members (UCX) program provides benefits for eligible ex-military personnel. Even though the program is based on your federal military service it is administered by your states.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Were in active duty (or in active reserve status) during the “base period” of the claim, as established by your state. (In most states, the base period is the first four out of the last five calendar quarters before you filed your claim.)
  • Were honorably discharged.
  • Completed the first full term of service, or were discharged earlier for no fault of your own; or if a reservist, you must have completed 180 days of continuous active duty.
  • You meet all other state eligibility requirements.

Receiving separation pay or retirement pay may also influence your receipt of unemployment compensation. Retirees will almost certainly receive a lesser amount (or no amount) since the weekly amount of retirement pay is usually "offset" against the amount of unemployment compensation.

Your state employment office handles unemployment compensation. Benefits vary from state to state. Because of this, only the office where you apply will be able to tell you the amount and duration of your entitlement.

Unemployment benefits are not automatic, to receive unemployment compensation, you must apply. The best time to do that is when you visit the Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) at the state employment services office for assistance in finding a new job.

To apply for unemployment compensation, you must bring your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214), your Social Security Card and your civilian and military job history or resume.

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