Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers

The federal UCX unemployment program provides ex-servicemembers with benefits as they attempt to obtain suitable employment opportunities during their transition to civilian life.

However, military unemployment benefits are only available to qualifying servicemembers who meet several specific eligibility requirements. For instance, veterans may only obtain these benefits if they were discharged from military service for honorable reasons. If servicemembers qualify for benefits, they typically receive weekly payments, as long as they continue to meet UCX program eligibility requirements. For instance, servicemembers must be willing and able to work and they must actively search for new employment opportunities.

To obtain unemployment after military service, veterans must apply for these benefits through their State Workforce Agency or the unemployment office in the state where they live. However, specific application requirements vary by state. In some cases, servicemembers may apply online, while other states may require them to apply in person or by telephone. To learn more about these benefits for servicemembers, veterans can review the information below.

What are veteran’s unemployment benefits?

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (known as UCX unemployment) is available to active duty military members who cannot gain employment after separating from their service. For instance, veterans may separate from the military for the following reasons:

  • They complete their tour of duty
  • Their enlistment contract ends
  • They retire due to a service-connected disability

Additionally, these unemployment benefits after military service are available to other applicants who cannot obtain suitable employment, including former members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Armed Forces. Federal law mandates this program, but state governments administer these benefits to qualifying servicemembers.

Related Article: Transition Assistance Program

Note: If unemployed veterans are at risk of losing their homes or becoming homeless, they may visit their local Community Resource and Referral Center or VA medical center for assistance. Alternately, they may contact a local office by telephone for employment services. A comprehensive list of contact information is available under the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

How much will I receive in military unemployment pay?

While veteran unemployment compensation amounts vary, factors such as training allowances, workers compensation, severance payments, earned wages and Social Security payments can all reduce UCX payment amounts. However, applicants may refer to the UCX unemployment pay chart from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to obtain a list of current amounts for servicemembers. For instance, this remuneration chart for the 2018 year includes the following information:

Pay Grades for Commissioned Officers Weekly Amounts Pay Grades for Warrant Officers Weekly Amounts Pay Grades for Enlisted Personnel Weekly


O-10 $4,674.46 W-5 $2,736.51 E-9 $2,262.19
O-8 $4,398.38 W-4 $2,381.05 E-8 $1,873.62
O-6 $3,477.25 W-3 $2,051.00 E-7 $1,671.95
O-4 $2,510.76 W-2 $1,771.00 E-6 $1,473.50
O-2 $1,614.90 W-1 $1,530.62 E-5 $1,249.78
O-1 $1,257.06 N/A N/A E-4 $1,032.92
O-3E $2,322.11 N/A N/A E-3 $934.99
O-2E $1,909.32 N/A N/A E-2 $908.46
O-1E $1,653.82 N/A N/A E-1 $811.09


Are military unemployment benefits the same as standard unemployment payments?

Veteran unemployment benefits and traditional state-administered benefits are similar, but they are not the same. For instance, UCX benefits are available to qualifying servicemembers, while state unemployment compensation (UC) programs are available to all workers who are unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own, regardless of their military status. However, qualifying servicemembers may be eligible to receive UCX and UC benefits depending on their specific situation.

As part of the veteran unemployment compensation program, various branches of the military pay for a servicemember’s unemployment benefits. For former NOAA members, however, branches of the Administration are responsible for paying these benefits. As for the state UC program, specific eligibility periods and benefit amounts vary depending on the claimant’s recent earnings and the state in which a worker resides. In most cases, a claimant who qualifies to obtain benefits under a state UC program will receive a percentage of his or her earnings during a recent 52-week pay period.

Who is eligible for veteran unemployment compensation?

Veteran unemployment benefits are available to qualifying servicemembers who cannot find work after separating from the military. However, servicemembers must meet several eligibility requirements before they may apply. For instance:

  • Veterans must have served on active duty under any branch of the U.S. military.
  • Servicemembers must have departed from their active duty service for honorable reasons.
  • Veterans must actively seek new employment opportunities in order to qualify.
  • Applicants may not be on terminal leave when they apply for benefits.

To obtain UCX unemployment pay, veterans may need to meet additional eligibility requirements depending on the state in which they live. In some states, for instance, veterans cannot apply for unemployment if they retire from active duty service and receive military retirement pay. In other states, unemployment earnings may be lower if veterans receive retirement or separation pay.

Moreover, servicemembers cannot obtain veteran unemployment benefits if they left the military for dishonorable conditions. For instance, dishonorable conditions may include a bad conduct or other-than-honorable discharge.

How to Apply for UCX Unemployment Benefits

To obtain unemployment compensation for ex-service members, veterans must visit their state’s employment office to apply in person. During their visit, veterans must submit a copy of their military discharge papers (DD Form 214), Social Security card, and their military or civilian employment history/resume. If servicemembers worked after departing from the military, they must include their employment dates, pay rate, employer’s name, address and contact information, and their reason for leaving the company. In some cases, unemployment UCX applicants may also need to provide their Alien Registration Number, driver’s license or state-issued identification card number, mailing address, date of birth and telephone number.

Moreover, the VA unemployment compensation application process varies by state. To locate state-specific contact information, veterans may use the CareerOneStop’s Unemployment Benefits Finder under the website of the U.S. Department of Labor. To use the tool, applicants simply need to select their state from the dropdown menu. Then, they will obtain veteran unemployment benefit information for the state in which they live. In some states, veterans may be able to apply for benefits online or by telephone as well. In states such as California, for instance, veterans may file a claim online through the website of the State Employment Development Department (EDD), or they may do so by calling 1-866-333-4606.

Related Article: Veterans Educational Assistance

It might also interest you: