Money changes hands. (Air Force Photo)

The individual states and American territories administer unemployment compensation. The military pays for unemployment insurance premiums on your behalf to the state of your home of record. The program is the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members or UCX.

Although unemployment is designed to assist individuals and families in the event of job loss, the military has designed UCX to pay benefits, generally, even if you do not decide to re-enlist voluntarily. There is a UCX program in each state that can be contacted through the unemployment compensation office.


To qualify for the program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been honorably separated, or separated “under honorable conditions.”
  • You must have completed the term of your enlistment contract (if enlisted), except when the following circumstances apply:
  1. Medical discharges
  2. Pregnancies
  3. Hardship or compassionate discharges
  4. Discharges because of parenthood/family care issues
  5. Inaptitude or personality disorders (provided you have served at least one year.
  6. You were on active duty for at least 90 days. (This provision makes the UCX program applicable to reserve-component Service members activated for at least that long, and renders the usual exemptions for temporary or seasonal work inapplicable to former Service members under the UCX program.)In addition to the military-specific eligibility criteria, each state will have its own criteria, as well. Examples of common eligibility criteria include:
  • Ability and availability. You must not be disabled and unable to work. You must also be available to work if someone calls you.
  • Effort. You must be looking for work. Most jurisdictions will expect you to document your job search and expect you to go on a minimum number of interviews or apply for a specific number of openings each week. Some may allow you to attend job hunt seminars for a time. If you do not put in the effort, the state may deny your benefits for that week.
  • Earnings. You must have earned a minimum amount of money in each quarter throughout the state’s wage base period. This is usually defined as the four or five calendar quarters preceding your unemployment claim. States generally define unemployment benefits as a percentage of your average earnings during the wage base period. This means if you had no earnings for a year prior to being mobilized, and you were on active duty for 90 days, the state may consider you not to have qualified, or to have qualified for a reduced benefit level.


When you receive your DD-214, after separation, you can apply for unemployment by contacting the Department of Workforce Development or Department of Labor in your home state. In addition to your DD-214, you will need your Social Security card and your separation papers and discharge showing you separated under honorable conditions. You may need to build a resume, but most unemployment offices will help you with this. It is very important that you understand how to build a civilian friendly resume. Information on this can be found at the TAD PGS Inc. website.


Unemployment will not replace your salary in the military. It is simply designed to provide the basic assistance to unemployed while they are searching for work. It may also be affected by other income from sources like the G. I. Bill benefits, disability compensation, retirement income, etc.

For more information, see