Am I Allowed to Collect Unemployment & GI Benefits?

The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers program sets unemployment guidelines for former military personnel. The federal program provides weekly compensation to unemployed veterans seeking suitable employment. Although the ex-servicemember's military branch pays the compensation, the states administer the program. This means that the veteran must also meet state guidelines. Some former servicemembers receive military benefits after discharge. In some cases, certain benefits render an ex-member ineligible for unemployment compensation.


Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers Program

Servicemembers must complete their full military obligation and receive an honorable discharge for service to be eligible for unemployment compensation through the program, though veterans released before the end of service due to a service-connected disability or through an early release program can qualify. Claimants must have earned the state's required amount during employment, must file timely claims, and must be unemployed or underemployed. The ex-servicemembers must actively seek employment and be able and available to accept a suitable job offer.


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Post 9/11 GI Bill

Servicemembers who complete at least 90 days of service on or after September 11, 2001, can receive educational support. Claimants must receive an honorable discharge to qualify. Ex-members discharged because of a service-connected disability also qualify for benefits. Post 9/11 benefits do not affect unemployment eligibility.

Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill pays up to 36 months of education benefits to former servicemembers. The bill covers a degree or certificate program, or refresher, remedial, and deficiency courses. Qualifications include active duty service, payment into the program of $1,200 over the course of a year, and honorable or service-connected disability discharge. Montgomery GI Bill benefits do not reduce unemployment compensation.


Survivors & Dependents Assistance

Survivors and Dependents Assistance provides educational assistance to dependents of veterans. The veteran must be deceased or completely disabled because of a service-connected injury or disability. Dependents of veterans missing in action, captured by hostile forces, or forcibly detained by a foreign power qualify for assistance. A dependent of a permanently disabled hospitalized or outpatient veteran qualifies, if the disability leads to discharge. Service members who receive Survivors & Dependence Assistance cannot receive unemployment.


Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation provides educational assistance for veterans with service-connected disabilities. Veterans Affairs pays for college or training programs that retrain and help disabled veterans find suitable employment. A veteran must have a disability rating of 20 percent to qualify. Veterans with a rating of 10 percent qualify if the disability affects the ability to find employment. Vocational Rehabilitation recipients are ineligible for unemployment.

Students and Unemployment

Student status may render a claimant ineligible. The ability and availability to work are requirements claimants must meet. Some states assume that full-time students are not able or available to work. States may require proof the student worked and attended school full-time. Otherwise, the student must agree to cut school hours or leave school to receive compensation. Students who quit a job to pursue a full-time education cannot receive unemployment compensation. Rules vary by state.


Other Benefits

Military retirement and pensions reduce unemployment compensation. Every dollar received in retirement reduces unemployment compensation by the same amount. Disability payments received from the Department of Veterans affairs do not reduce unemployment payments. Disability payments received from a military branch reduce unemployment dollar-for-dollar. National Guard or Reserves weekend and annual drill payments do not reduce unemployment. Guard or Reservists who work 40 hours or more in a claim week cannot receive benefits for the workweek.