Are You Eligible For The Military’s Unemployment Program?

Unemployment benefits after the military

Are you separating from the armed services or have you recently separated, but you don’t have a post-military job lined up yet? You might be able to receive unemployment benefits to help keep you afloat until you are able to land a job.

The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) provides financial benefits to ex-military personnel who qualify. Here’s a quick rundown of what it entails.

Who Qualifies?

UCX is available to ex-service members of all ranks who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You were on active duty with a branch of the U.S. military. You may be entitled to benefits based on that service.
  • You must have been separated under honorable conditions.
  • There is no payroll deduction from your wages for unemployment insurance protection. Benefits are paid for by the various branches of the military.

What are the Benefits?

The state where you apply for unemployment will determine benefit amounts, the number of weeks you can receive the benefit and other eligibility conditions. The benefit amount can vary based on the state’s unemployment rate and cost of living, among other factors. In most states, you can collect unemployment for up to 26 weeks.

Typically, the amount of unemployment that you would receive is based on taxable income prior to separation. For instance — according to the Missouri Department of Labor Unemployment Benefit Calculator — if you earned $27,000 in the year prior to your application, you would receive an estimated $270 weekly.

Separation pay and retirement pay might also affect how much you would receive.

How do I Apply?

You can only apply in the state where you reside, not in the state where you separated. Once you’ve finished active duty, received your DD Form 214 and completed terminal leave, then you can apply for unemployment benefits by contacting the department of labor in your state.

To apply, you will need your Social Security card, DD Form 214 and a resume. It is expected that you will be searching for employment while you are receiving unemployment compensation.

If you need help putting together a resume, especially since military experience can be difficult to translate into civilian language, the VA for Vets Career Center, VetNet, or The Military Wallet are good places to begin.

For more information about unemployment compensation, visit the United States Department of Labor. You can also call the Department of Labor at 1-877-US-2JOBS.

To talk with a Veterans United loan specialist about how unemployment impacts your ability to purchase a home, call 855-870-8845 or get started online today.

Photo courtesy of Paul Wlethorn

59 responses to “Are You Eligible For The Military’s Unemployment Program?”

  1. Tony says:

    I need some info on getting 100 percent disabled do to being unemployable? I have my own business and can not perform the work any longer.

  2. Erin says:

    Is this different than regular unemployment compensation?

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Erin!

      The benefits you receive will be no different than any other person receiving unemployment benefits. UCX is another avenue by which you can apply for unemployment compensation. If you have further questions your best bet will be to call the Labor Department at 1-877-US-2JOBS.

  3. Shirley Barnes A. says:

    I’m a disabled 100% Vet, since 2004, Can I still qualify. For Unemployment benefit, It hard on me to, due to little. Funds to pay monthly bills, what kind of other help can I get, n where do I get it from? THANK YOU

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Shirley!

      If you are already receiving disability compensation, that might affect how much you could receive from unemployment compensation. Also, there isn’t anything listed on the U.S. Department of Labor website about length of time between separation and applying for unemployment under UCX, though it does state that you should apply as soon as possible after discharge. Each state governs how they distribute unemployment benefits so your best bet at having your questions answered will be to call the labor department in your state or the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-877-US-2JOBS.

  4. Aaron B says:

    hOW ARE you doing? Well my final out of the military is today. I had to sell 45.5 leave days. When can I start drawing unemployment because I want to go back to school?

    • admin says:

      You can apply for unemployment in your state once you have been honorably discharged from the military. When applying for unemployment, you cannot be on terminal leave. Let us know if you need anything else.

      -Christian L.

  5. walt says:

    After leave, is it possible to get unemployment benefits with part time or full time student status?

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Walt!

      Each state has different rules about who qualifies for unemployment, so being a student might disqualify you. If you call the labor department in your state they should be able to answer your questions.

      David Moore

  6. walt says:

    If the service member decides to take some college classes, is it possible to qualify for unemployment benefits after the leave days?

  7. cury tipton says:

    Is there a cutoff time frame. I got out in 2008, but still have yet to find work. I spent almost 2 years in a cast and have atleast 4-5 doctors appointments PER MONTH. I have yet to find an employer that would put up with my doctors visits. I am rated at 50% right now. Am I eligible to apply, the extra money would def help pay my bills..

    • admin says:

      Assuming your discharge was honorable, you might be eligible, yes. Your best bet is to contact your state’s Department of Labor. Here’s a link with the list of all 50 states and their respective labor department’s contact info:

      Let me know if you need anything else.

      -Christian L.

      • cury tipton says:

        I called the Florida number. It isn’t a program just for Ex-Military, its the regular unemployment line. The only thing that is correct is that it does have to be an honorable or general with honorable in order to qualify for unemployment. I have an honorable, LOL, just putting that out there in case others try to apply..But all in all, there is NO Military program in Florida..

        • admin says:

          You’re correct, unemployment is administered by each state’s labor department, not by the DoD. To apply you will need your Social Security card, DD Form 214 and a resume.

          -Christian L.

  8. Jamel says:

    Can you receive this if you get a General under Honorable conditions?

  9. Jon says:

    K” I was Discharge in 1990 under Honorable condition work a job for 18 years then in 2008 was laid off could not find a job because it’s a small town, very small do you think i will get the UCX since i was on unemployment before it was exhausted.

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Jon,

      You’ll have to contact your state’s labor department. They are the ones who determine who gets unemployment benefits and how much under UCX.

      Good luck!
      David Moore

  10. rob says:

    Hello, I completed 4 year active duty service with an honorable discharge. A month later, I was able to jump right into another job and have been working there for 8 months. I tried my best not to collect benefits unless necessary. I’ve recently been moved to 1st shift which was a decrease in pay and there has also been a large decrease in overtime. I also work in a mental health facility which can be a hostile environment. If I quit, would I still be eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • admin says:

      I believe you’d still be eligible, yes, as long as there was no payroll deduction from your wages for unemployment insurance protection. Benefits are paid for by the various branches of the military.

      -Christian L.

  11. Kory says:

    I recently separated from the Navy this passed October, and started working immediately at the same command as a contractor. Unfortunately, because of the state of the economy, my contracting job has been cut and will end at the end of this month (June 27, 2013). Will I still be eligible for unemployment benefits because of this, and after this amount of time?

    Thanks, Kory

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Kory,

      Thanks for the query. I see no reason why you cannot apply for unemployment benefits. To determine whether you can apply under UCX or under the normal benefit, it’ll be best for you to contact your state’s labor department (Click on this link).

      Best of luck! –David Moore

  12. enrique says:

    Hi. I’m getting an General under honorable discharge from the marine corps do I rate unemployment in California my home state?

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Enrique,

      As long as you separate under honorable conditions, you should be able to qualify. But, there are going to be other factors as well that determine qualification for unemployment benefits under UCX. Your first step is to contact the labor department in your state to find out how to get the process started.

      David Moore

    • holoh says:

      There is no such thing as a “General under honorable discharge”. Is it honorable or is it a general?

      • Brockton Stewart says:

        There is general under honorable conditions.

      • JC says:

        there is a such thing. my husband has a general under honorable. It just means that they leave the military as a general and in six months can apply for an honorable.

        • Guest says:

          Hi I saw that you said that you can apply for an honorable if discharged with general under honorable conditions. How would you do this? My boyfriend needed to do this and we didn’t know how.

    • SSGVLG says:

      there is a discharge that is General under honorable conditions……

  13. Megan says:

    I was honorably discharged in August of 2011 and have not held a job since, can I apply for unemployment, or is there a time limit?

    • David Moore says:

      Hi Megan,

      The UCX webpage states, “The UCX Program provides unemployment insurance protection to ex-servicemembers of all ranks… who meet the following eligibility criteria.” There’s no mention of time frame during which you have to apply. Contact your state’s labor department. They’ll be able to help you in greater detail there. Also, you might want to consider seeking unemployment benefits through normal channels as well in addition to UCX.

      Good Luck!

      • Linval says:

        David what is UCX and normAL channels? I did 4 year Army officially out in a couple days. No offers as yet and I am trying to sigh up on the labor website without success.

  14. Mike says:

    I was recently discharged from the Coast Guard with an honorable discharge after having served 2 years and 9 months. I was told by the State unemployment office (CA) that I am not eligible for unemployment benefits because I did not complete the entirety of my service obligation. IS this correct? I cannot find any details that would dis

  15. Mike says:

    I cannot find any details that would disqualify me for this reason.

  16. Nadiua says:

    Does it matter what state you file

  17. Thelma says:

    This coming February I will be discharged from the Navy due to Higher Tenure. I just apply for a job and got hired but I will be working 3 days a week, can I apply for unemployment once I’m official out of the service even though I’m working part time?

  18. Jennifer Leigh says:

    I recently separated from the AF under honorable conditions. My husband is still Active Duty, lives in SC but state of residence is TX. I am temporarily living in NC but too, Texas is my legal state of residency. Which state can I file for unemployment? Thanks!

  19. Jason Alatorre says:

    Well I just got out myself with an honorable discharge and NJ unemployment requirement state that I have to wait 18 MONTHS before I can receive any type of help

    • SuperTrooper88 says:

      Any update on your situation? I just separated and will be going throught the same process soon.

  20. Daniel Hoffman says:

    My son in law is claiming that he is not eligible for unemployment compensation in Texas after serving in the military for five years. What is up with this?

    • M. Boyd says:

      D. Hoffman,
      There seems to be no reason he would not be eligible unless he is not giving you the whole story.

  21. Estephani TorresVillanueva says:

    I am separating from the navy next july after having served 5 years. I am currently stationed in Washington State and that is where i will be discharged from. If i move to another state will i still be able to claim Washington State unemployment? Also, if i stay reserves would that count as being partially employed? And lastly, if I start using my 9/11 GI Bill and start getting money for my schooling would that affect my unemployment benefits negatively? Any information would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

    • M. Boyd says:

      You must apply in the state you reside. (Where you live) Also reserves may affect you benefit amount. If you are a full time student in most cases you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

  22. JSHunt says:

    I am a spouse of Active Military and left my position Jan 2013 due to PSC move to Germany. We are now retiring and relocating back to NC. My question, would I be eligible for UCX benefits as I voluntarily had to leave my position due to orders? I am actively looking for a position back in NC but have come up with nothing at this time….

  23. ExNavyHM says:

    I separated from the Navy last Aug. filed and collected 26 weeks of Unemployment in from California. It has all been exhausted and I still have not found a job. I had to move to Arizona, can I re-apply for unemployment in Arizona?

  24. Rich says:

    I recently left active service and received a voluntary separations pay, I plan on using the money to cover debts that accumulated over the past few years. Would I still quality for unemployment benefits in the state of Florida?

  25. Billy says:

    I separated from the Military in June. I went to file for unemployment, however never accepted any of the benefits because I started a part-time Job. However, the job was not even coming close to what i would make on unemployment and was impossible to live on. I worked there for two months. Is their any way I can still collect Unemployment until i find something better? I have an honorable discharge and am in Illinois. Thank you.

  26. Scott Mortensen says:

    A friend of mine is getting discharged with an oth but reenlisted so has an honourable as well. Is he still eligible?

  27. daniel says:

    No only honorable I had a guy on my team try

  28. daniel says:

    No only honorable

  29. skyler says:

    i got a general with honorable conditions discharge. do i qualify?

  30. Paul says:

    I am in the Army National Guard. My entire training period was over 6 months so technically I am considered a “veteran.” I am under NG status at the moment and work freelance. Would I be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits?

  31. TED says:


  32. Mary June Robison says:

    Do I apply in the state I live or the state I claim as my home of record?