Unemployment Compensation: Special Rules for Servicemembers

Unemployment Compensation: Special Rules for Servicemembers

What is Unemployment Compensation [UC]?

"Unemployment compensation” [UC] programs provide weekly income to workers who can’t find jobs. UC can help you get by if you are unemployed or only able to find part-time work. Weekly UC payments also include a small amount for dependents. Typically you need to have earned a certain minimum amount during a "base period" in order to qualify. The basic benefit period is 26 weeks, but often you can claim more weeks, especially in times of high unemployment.

Where do I apply? 

Each State has its own rules about how to qualify, how to apply, and how much you can get.  Go here to find out details and where to apply in your state.

Are there any special rules for servicemembers? 

Special laws allow some members of the military and their spouses to qualify for UC as a result of military service.

  • Former active duty military personnel (and certain reservists) may qualify for “Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members” [UCX]. This federal program allows you to use your military hours and earnings to qualify for benefits. Follow link below for more details.
  • The spouse of a military member who leaves a job because of the spouse’s military transfer may qualify for UC. This will depend on the laws of the State where you have moved. Not all States provide this benefit. Follow link below for more details.


Last updated May 2018

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers [UCX Program]

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers [UCX Program]

What is the UCX Program?

By federal law, certain members of the military can get Unemployment Compensation based on their active duty service. This is sometimes called the “UCX Program.”   It provides weekly income to servicemembers as they look for work, including those who can find only part-time work.

While it is based on a federal law, the program is run by each State. A State may have its own rules, in addition to those outlined here.

Who can qualify for UCX benefits?

In general, you must meet all of these rules:

  1. Active duty military service. You were on active duty in the Armed Forces or you served on active duty in a reserve status. If you served on active duty in a reserve status, you must have served for a continuous period of 90 days or more to be eligible for UCX benefits.
  2. Honorable discharge. You were discharged or released under honorable conditions. (And, if you were an officer, you did not resign for the good of the service.) You cannot get UCX benefits with:
    • a discharge condition of “other than honorable,”
    • a “bad conduct” discharge, or
    • a dishonorable discharge, including a general court-martial

    More information about discharge conditions is provided here.

  3. Full term of active service or discharge for an allowable reason.  You were discharged or released after completing the first full term of active service which you initially agreed to serve, or you were discharged earlier:
    • For the convenience of the Government under an early release program,
    • Because of medical disqualification, pregnancy, parenthood, or any service-incurred injury or disability,
    • Because of hardship, or
    • Because of personality disorders or inaptitude, but only if the service was continuous for 365 days or more

What state program rules do I have to meet?

Every state program has its own specific rules. But here are some general requirements:

  • You have earned a certain minimum amount during the State’s “base period.” Your Federal military service and wages count toward this requirement.
  • You file weekly claims.
  • You are totally or partially unemployed.
  • You are able to work, available for work, and seeking work

Under many State laws, you may not be eligible if you are trying to set up your own business or want to be self-employed. This is true even if you were self-employed before entering the military.

Your State Workforce Agency website should post more details about your State’s program rules.  

Where and how do I apply?

Apply for benefits in the State where you are searching for work. Each State should have a clear process for applying for UCX.  In many states, you may now file your claim by telephone or online.

Contact your State Workforce Agency as soon as you can after you are discharged.   The most important form you will need is the DD-214. This form contains the information needed to establish your claim.

Make sure that the information on your DD-214 is correct and that it matches your benefit claim information. For example, your military separation date needs to match up on both forms. If there are mistakes on the DD-214, this may slow down your claim or cause you to lose benefits.  Important information about this form is provided here.

The State Workforce Agency will check your military service information before it acts on your UCX claim. It does this by contacting The Federal Claims Control Center within the U.S. Department of Labor. This federal agency should have your relevant military history, including your DD-214.

What if there are mistakes in the information about my military service?

You can ask that any mistakes on the following issues be corrected:

  • The beginning and ending dates of your active service period and “days lost”
  • The type of active duty discharge or release
  • Your pay grade at the time of active duty discharge or release
  • The narrative reason or other reason for separation from active service
  • The condition of discharge

Make your written request to the State Workforce Agency. Attach any information that you think will help to correct the errors. The State Workforce Agency will forward your request for correction to the federal military agency that issued your DD-214. The issuing federal military agency will make a decison and if they beleive you are correct, they will re-issue you a DD-214 with the correct information.

If you discover the errors after the State agency’s decision, or the State agency has refused to postpone its decision, you can file either:

  • a Request for Redetermination, or
  • an Appeal of the Initial Decision

Use whichever process is required by your State. Make your request for a correction at the same time. Don't miss the deadline for appeal.  If you file late, your appeal can be denied.

When the federal military agency issues a corrected military document in response to your request, their decision is final and binding on the State agency for all purposes, including appeal and review.

What if the Federal agency does not have my military information?

The Federal Claims Control Center may not have a copy of your DD-214 on file. If this happens, the State agency should let you know that you will need to do a UCX Affidavit. This is a document you create to prove your military service.

The UCX Affidavit must include one of the following:

  • Your most recent DD-214
  • Your ‘Orders to Report,’ or
  • Your ‘Orders of Release’

The Federal Claims Control Center must approve any alternative form of proof before the State can accept it with the Affidavit. All information you provide must be accurate.

Even if you provide a UCX Affidavit, the Federal Claims Control Center may later find your DD-214 and forward it to the State.

How much will my UCX benefits be?

The law of the State where you file the claim will determine your weekly benefit amount, the number of weeks paid, and other program rules. 

Your federal military service and wages are treated as though they were civilian employment. This includes all pay and allowances in cash and in kind for federal military service. The amount is based on your pay grade when you left military service. The State will base its calculation on a “Schedule of Remuneration” for various pay grades. This Schedule is set by the U.S. Department of Labor. View the current Schedule (effective for UCX "first claims" filed on or after January 1, 2017).

Depending on the State, these other types of income may reduce weekly UCX or UC payments:

  • Wages from a job
  • Severance pay
  • Social Security payments
  • Workers compensation
  • Training allowances

What if I am a student?

You cannot get UCX at the same time that you are getting benefits from:

  • the “Survivors and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program,” or

  • the VA “Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program”

If the State where you are applying for benefits allows students to get unemployment compensation, you may be able to get UCX if you are getting help from the Montgomery GI bill. However, most States do not allow any students to get unemployment compensation.

Legal Authority
The federal regulations at 20 CFR Part 614 govern the UCX program. The relevant statutes are 5 U.S.C. §§ 8521-8525. Your State Workforce Agency may also have its own information about this program.

Last updated September 2017

Unemployment Compensation for Spouses who Quit Work Because of Military Spouse Transfers

Unemployment Compensation for Spouses who Quit Work Because of Military Spouse Transfers

What is Unemployment Compensation?

Each State runs an Unemployment Compensation (UC) program for people who have lost their jobs. Eligible unemployed workers get weekly checks and can qualify for other work-related benefits.

Can I claim benefits if my spouse or partner was transferred?

Maybe. The answer depends on the law in the State where you are re-locating. In general, you cannot get UC benefits if you “voluntarily quit” work. But there are “good cause” exceptions to this rule. Some States allow “good cause” for quitting a job if you did so in order to “follow your spouse” to his or her new job.

Some States limit that right to military transfers. Other States allow “good cause” for any kind of job transfer.

In general, you must be married to the person who has been transferred. But some States include people who are about to be married. A few States include “domestic partners.”

How can I find out the rules of the State I am moving to?

The law of the State where you move as a result of the transfer will apply.

Based on current information (2014), you may be eligible for UC benefits in the following States:

  • Alabama (military transfer only)
  • Alaska (any job transfer, including military)
  • Arizona (miitary transfer only)
  • Arkansas (any job transfer, including military)
  • California (any job transfer, including military)
  • Colorado (military transfer only)
  • Connecticut (any job transfer, including military)
  • Delaware (any job transfer, including military)
  • D.C. (any job transfer, including military)
  • Florida (military transfer only)
  • Georgia (military transfer only)
  • Hawaii (any job transfer, including military)
  • Illinois (any job transfer, including military)
  • Indiana (any job transfer, including military)
  • Iowa (military transfer only)
  • Kansas (military transfer only)
  • Kentucky (military transfer only)
  • Maine (any job transfer, including military)
  • Maryland (military transfer only)
  • Massachusetts (any job transfer, including military)
  • Michigan (military transfer only)
  • Minnesota (any job transfer, including military)
  • Mississippi (military transfer only)
  • Missouri (military transfer only)
  • Montana (military transfer only)
  • Nebraska (any job transfer, including military)
  • Nevada (any job transfer, including military)
  • New Hampshire (any job transfer, including military)
  • New Jersey (military transfer only)
  • New Mexico (military transfer only)
  • New York (any job transfer, including military)
  • North Carolina (military transfer only)
  • Ohio (any job transfer, including military)
  • Oklahoma (military transfer only)
  • Oregon (any job transfer, including military)
  • Pennsylvania (any job transfer, including military)
  • Rhode Island (any job transfer, including military)
  • South Carolina (any job transfer, including military)
  • South Dakota (military transfer only)
  • Tennessee (military transfer only)
  • Texas (military transfer only)
  • Utah (military transfer only)
  • Virginia (military transfer only)
  • Virgin Islands (any job transfer, including military)
  • Washington (any job transfer, including military)
  • West Virginia (military transfer only)
  • Wisconsin (any job transfer, including military)
  • Wyoming (military transfer only)

States change their UC laws from year to year. Go here to see an updated listing of the relevant State laws. Also, we encourage you to check with the State agency where you have moved, to make sure that you have the correct, most up-to-date information.

Where and how do I apply?

Apply for benefits in the State where you have relocated. Each State has its own process. In many States you may file your claim by telephone or online. Go here to find your State Workforce Agency. Apply as soon as you can after you have moved.

The law of the State where you apply will determine the results. That is, whether you qualify, your benefit amounts, the number of weeks you can get benefits, how to file weekly claims, and so forth. The amount of your benefits will be based on your prior earnings record – typically, how much you earned in your last job.

What if I am denied benefits?

You can file an appeal. Your denial notice should tell you how to appeal and the deadline. If your family has a low income, you may be able to get free legal help with your appeal from a local legal aid office.  Go here to find a low-income legal aid office near you.