Servicemembers separated from the United States Armed Forces, including the Reserve and National Guard, are entitled to unemployment benefits from their state unemployment insurance program while actively seeking employment. The costs to the states are reimbursed through the Federal Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers Act (UCX). UCX was enacted by Congress in 1972, modified in 1991, and codified in Federal law as Title 5 U.S. Code §8521 (Attachment A) UCX is implemented through 20 C.F.R. §614, et seq. of the Code of Federal Regulations.
The UCX is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, which reimburses state unemployment programs for the benefits paid to unemployed servicemembers, and, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) periodically publishes a schedule of servicemembers’ pay tables to assist the states in computing unemployment benefits (Attachment B).
Eligibility for UCX benefits is dependent upon completion of the first full term of enlistment except where discharge or early release was for the convenience of the government under an early release program; or medical disqualification, pregnancy, parenthood, or any service-incurred injury or disability; or hardship; or personality disorder or inaptitude, but only if the service was continuous for 365 days or more; or, as a member of the Reserve or National Guard, after at least 90 days of continuous active duty; and, in all cases, the separation was under honorable conditions, and in the case of officers, resignation was not for the good of the service.
The weekly benefit rate will be based on the servicemember’s high quarter earnings in the base period. Earnings in military service are based on a Federal schedule that takes into account the base pay in the servicemember’s last grade plus allowances for food and clothing.
The benefits actually paid to each unemployed servicemember are subject to the state’s regulations where the application for benefits is filed. Benefits vary from state-to-state, but servicemembers will receive the same rate and duration as civilian job seekers. Actual benefits may only be determined through consultation with the state’s unemployment office and the submission of an application for benefits.
Approximately half the states also provide unemployment insurance benefits to the spouses of servicemembers that leave their jobs when the military spouse is transferred. Time-in-service retirees and disability retirees may be entitled to full or partial unemployment insurance benefits depending upon the state where the application is filed. However, servicemembers receiving GI Education benefits and VocRehab from the VA are generally excluded. But benefits do vary, so each servicemember seeking employment should meet with the state’s representative to maximize the availability to benefits.
All states require a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214 Member 4 Copy), or, in the case of the Reserve and National Guard when a DD214 is not issued, a copy of mobilization orders, to initiate the benefit claim.
The UCX is intended to make the transition from the Armed Forces to the private/public sector less daunting – use it!
5 USC Sec. 8521 (Document)
Field Register (PDF)