If you cannot find a job after leaving military service, you can receive unemployment benefits through the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members program. The unemployment office in each state administers the UCX program, although it is federally funded. A veteran must have served on active duty and must have received a discharge that was not dishonorable. They can get benefits in the state where they live after being discharged, regardless of whether they previously lived in that state.
The amount of your benefits will be calculated according to what you earned during your military service. State laws will provide a cap, although generally you can receive half of your prior pay unless it was exceptionally high. You must submit a form each week to certify that you have continued to seek employment and that you are ready, able, and available to work. Benefits usually are available for 26 weeks, but the state or federal government may extend this period when the economy is struggling, such that it is especially difficult to find a job. Sometimes benefits may be extended for as much as 99 weeks under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
Applying for Unemployment Benefits
Filing an application for UCX benefits involves submitting your discharge papers, your Social Security card, and documentation of your civilian and military employment history to your state employment office. A veteran can apply for these benefits as soon as the week that they receive their discharge. They may need to go through a one-week waiting period before they receive benefits.
Before a state determines that a veteran is eligible for benefits, they may interview them about their pay in the military and their military service, as well as how they left the military. The state employment office will verify the information that the veteran provides with their branch of the military. A veteran will receive reimbursement for any benefits payments that they miss during the verification process, assuming that they are eventually found eligible.
Combining Unemployment Benefits with Other Benefits
UCX benefits are reduced if a veteran is also receiving disability retirement benefits or military retirement benefits. This could completely negate your unemployment benefits because the amount for which you are eligible may be less than the amount of your retirement benefits.
If you are receiving disability compensation from the VA, on the other hand, your unemployment benefits will not be reduced.
Taxes will apply to unemployment benefits, in contrast to disability compensation received through the VA. You can ask to have taxes withheld from the check that you receive for your UCX benefits. Generally, the state will not withhold taxes from the UCX check unless you ask. Taxes on these benefits may not necessarily matter if you remain unemployed. If you eventually get a job, however, you may find that you owe taxes based on both your new income and the UCX benefits. Therefore, when you get a job, you may want to increase the amount withheld from your paycheck for taxes to account for the taxes that you owe based on the UCX benefits.