Unemployment for Retired Military

By Kate Horrell,

Approximately 40,000 active duty service members retire each year, and some good number of them are looking for jobs, but haven’t found work.  It’s possible that those folks might be eligible for a special type of  unemployment benefits, called UCX (Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Military.)  based upon the amount of their military retirement pay and the limits in the state in which they are filing. Not a lot of people will qualify for unemployment for retired military, but it’s worth a look.

Are You Eligible?

Only the unemployment office can determine if your military retirement pay disqualifies you from unemployment benefits.  However, you can guesstimate by determining the maximum benefit amount in your state and comparing it to the amount of your military retirement pay.  If your military retirement pay is near or more than the amount of unemployment benefits for your state, you probably won’t qualify.

You must be actively seeking employment.

You will file in the state in which you are physically living.  This rule may be different than the rules for non-military related unemployment compensation.

In cases where military retirement pay is delayed for some reason, you should be eligible for unemployment in the interim.

How To Apply

Application for unemployment benefits goes through your state unemployment office.  You will need your Social Security card, your DD214, a resume, and documentation of your retirement income (Retiree Account Statement.)

Why You Might Not Want To Accept Unemployment Benefits

Applying for, and receiving, unemployment benefits has some downsides.

Generally speaking, you are required to physically remain in the state where you are receiving benefits.  No vacations, no visiting your parents, or your kids, no catching up with your old shipmate or battle buddy while you have a little free time.

You must be actively seeking work, and you must report what you’re doing to look for a job.

If you are offered a job, you may be required to accept it or lose your unemployment benefits.  The details of this provision will vary by state.

Other Options

Unemployed retirees may also use their GI Bill benefits, which can provide some income for living expenses as well as help them become more employable.

The VA also has a program called Veterans Opportunity to Work, which includes the possibility of 12 months of educational benefits to learn a high-demand skill.

Not every military retiree will qualify for unemployment benefits, based upon the amount of your military retirement pay and your state’s unemployment compensation rules. However, it’s worth investigating if you are out of work and money is tight.

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