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Unemployment Benefits After Military Service

At a Glance

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

Can you receive unemployment after leaving the military?

Unemployment benefits are available to Veterans after military service and are fairly similar to civilian unemployment benefits. They are designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are involuntarily unemployed and meet the specific eligibility requirements set by each state's unemployment agency.

The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) program provides financial benefits to qualified ex-military personnel. States administer benefits as agents of the federal government. UCX eligibility depends on factors such as the reason for leaving the military, the length of service and the state's regulations.

You might qualify for UCX if:

  • You were on active duty (or in active Reserve status) in the U.S. military
  • You were discharged with honorable conditions
  • You have completed the first full term of service for which you enlisted, or if a Reservist, completed 180 days of continuous active duty
  • You meet all other state eligibility requirements

How much do Veterans get from unemployment?

The state where you apply for unemployment will determine benefit amounts, the number of weeks you can receive the benefit and other eligibility conditions.

Unemployment benefits are usually based on the Veteran’s earnings during a specific period known as the "base period." The base period typically covers 12 to 18 months before the Veteran applies for unemployment benefits. The unemployment benefit amount is often a percentage of the individual's average earnings during the base period. This percentage varies by state but is usually around 40-50% of the average weekly earnings.

For instance — according to the Missouri Department of Labor Unemployment Benefit Calculator — if you earned $27,000 in the year before your application, you would receive an estimated $320 weekly.

Each state sets a maximum weekly benefit amount that an individual can receive. In most states, you can collect unemployment for up to 26 weeks maximum.

How To Apply for Unemployment After Military Service

To apply for unemployment, you should contact your state's Department of Labor after completing active duty and terminal leave. You can only apply for unemployment in the state where you reside, not where you are separated.

You will need your Social Security card, your DD214 and a resume to apply.

Keep in mind that you are expected to search for employment while you are receiving unemployment compensation.

Can unemployment income be used on a VA loan?

Unfortunately, VA lenders will only count effective income toward a VA loan application. An income stream is deemed effective if it is stable and reliable. Unemployment income is temporary, so it is considered neither stable nor reliable and will not count as effective income.

Reach out to your state's official unemployment agency to get the most accurate and up-to-date information about unemployment benefits for Veterans in your state; visit your state's official unemployment agency website or contact them directly. They can provide specific information about eligibility criteria, benefit calculations, and application procedures.

To talk with a Veterans United VA Loan Expert about how unemployment impacts your ability to purchase a home, call 855-870-8845.

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