Can You File Unemployment If You Are in the Reserves?

Generally, you can file for unemployment compensation if you are a member of the Reserves. Unemployment insurance is for people who have experienced substantial declines in their income, through no fault of their own. Your status as a reservist or National Guardsman is not a factor. However, your drill pay will generally be deducted from your unemployment benefits.

Qualifying for Unemployment

Unemployment compensation is administered at the state level. This means that specific state rules vary, but generally, you can qualify for unemployment if you have a history of earning money through work, and you have experienced a substantial loss of income through no fault of your own. Generally, you cannot qualify for unemployment if you have quit a job voluntarily, or if you have been let go for cause, such as theft, fraud or other misconduct. However, letting an active-duty enlistment obligation expire without extending your time in service does not count as quitting voluntarily.

Your DD-214

If you are leaving active duty or have recently left active duty, your DD-214 is a key document in establishing your work history. Your DD-214 will list the amount of time you have on active duty, your dates of entry and discharge and the nature of your discharge, whether honorable, under honorable conditions or a general discharge. Most jurisdictions will not provide unemployment benefits if you received a general discharge for misconduct. You can show a DD-214 even if you continue serving in the Reserves or Guard.

Qualifying for Benefits

To qualify for benefits, you must also show a work history and earnings history throughout your state's wage base period, typically, the period between 12 months and 15 months prior to filing for benefits. Your benefits are calculated as a percentage of this income.

Weekly Benefits

Most jurisdictions provide unemployment as a weekly benefit. They also subtract your income earned from your benefits for that week. As a result, you may get a reduced or eliminated benefit for the weeks in which you had drill, but would receive your normal benefit during the other weeks. However, some jurisdictions, such as California, do not subtract drill pay from unemployment benefits.

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