Unemployment Benefits for Veterans

Updated: November 3, 2022
In this Article

    Several unemployment benefits and programs exist for veterans.

    If you’re a veteran who’s out of work, here are some programs you may be eligible for.

    Types of Unemployment Benefits for Veterans

    • State unemployment benefits: If you’ve lost your civilian job, you can file for your state’s regular unemployment compensation program based on your salary, how long you’ve contributed to unemployment and other factors.
    • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX) program: If you’re a veteran who recently separated from military service and encounter difficulty or delays in finding a new job, UCX can help you during your transition.

    Unemployment Programs and Benefits Specifically for Veterans

    Your state and local government may also offer veteran-specific unemployment resources.

    Search for “veteran unemployment” or “military unemployment” information on your state and local government websites, or reach out to your state or local office of veteran services.

    Federal UCX helps veterans transition out of the military and into a successful and fulfilling civilian life.

    Though UCX is a federal program, state governments administer it.

    Veteran Unemployment Application Requirements

    According to the Department of Labor’s fact sheet, veterans must meet the following UCX eligibility requirements:

    • The applicant must have been on active duty or in active reserve status during a specific period prior to your claim. For most states, this is one year.
    • The applicant must have served the full initial term of duty. For reserve service members, this is 180 days of continuous active duty.
    • The applicant must have received an honorable discharge.
    • The applicant must meet the state’s unemployment eligibility requirements.

    Students – even those using GI Bill benefits – may still qualify if they meet other eligibility requirements. However, some requirements may vary by state, so check with your state’s labor or employment office to find out more.

    To continue receiving weekly benefits, you’ll have to fulfill the state’s continuing eligibility requirements. These vary by state and may include:

    • Filing weekly or biweekly claims
    • Being available to work
    • Reporting any earnings
    • Reporting any job offers
    • Registering for work with the State Employment Service
    • Reporting to a local UI claims office at a specified time

    How UCX Works

    States usually base unemployment benefits on a percentage of your earnings in the past year, up to a state-set maximum.

    UCX works in much the same way.

    “The base period wages from military service are based on the applicant’s pay grade prior to filing the UCX claim and are calculated using a ‘Schedule of Remuneration’ that outlines pay rates for various pay grades,” according to the Department of Labor.

    The Department of Labor publishes the Schedule of Remuneration annually, here.

    Unemployment claims are valid for one year after you file them.

    “The number of weeks payable is based on state law and is tied to the maximum benefit amount payable,” the Labor Department said.

    UCX Payments Can Be Reduced If You Earn Income

    Your state may reduce your UCX benefits if you also receive any of the following:

    Read more about Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) here.

    Unemployment Resources for Disabled Veterans

    As part of the Veterans Employment Initiative, veterans who have disabilities are eligible for hiring preference for most federal jobs.

    You can find information about the program, as well as federal employment opportunities, on the FedsHireVets website. Several states also give hiring preference to veterans who have disabilities.

    The VA Veteran Readiness and Employment program (VR&E) offers job training and related services for veterans with qualifying service-connected disabilities.

    You may also qualify for assistance in starting your own business or a subsistence allowance while you participate in VR&E training.

    While these aren’t direct unemployment compensation options, they can still help you offset the costs of housing and living while you learn skills for a new job.

    If you are currently unemployed and thinking about a change of career or learning new skills, VR&E can help ease the transition for those who qualify.

    An Important Caveat for Disabled Veterans

    Keep in mind that participating in VR&E or drawing educational benefits may affect your eligibility for unemployment benefits or the amount you receive.

    Regular Unemployment Insurance

    A veteran who was fired, laid off or made redundant may apply for state unemployment benefits, depending on the nature of their employment and state unemployment criteria.

    Each state has an official site where you can find information about claiming your out-of-work benefits.

    California’s Employment Development Department is a good example. This site features instructions, forms and an online benefits calculator for veterans and civilians.

    Individual state requirements when applying may vary, but the State of California’s requirements include:

    • Last employer contact information
    • Last date worked
    • Reason(s) you are no longer working
    • Gross earnings in the last week you worked
    • Information on all employers you worked for during the past 18 months
    • DD 214 Member 4 copy (veterans only)
    • Citizenship status
    Written by Veteran.com Team