Benefits

Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Former Service Members

Are former service members eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Yes. As a general rule, former service members are eligible to file for and receive unemployment insurance benefits through one of two programs:

Are former service members eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Yes. As a general rule, former service members are eligible to file for and receive unemployment insurance benefits through one of two programs:

UCX is intended to help former service members transition to civilian life. Like Federal-State Unemployment Insurance, it provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

What are the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance?

To be eligible for UCX or Federal-State Unemployment Insurance benefits, a former service member must:

  1. Have been on active duty (or in active Reserve status) with a branch of the U.S. military (or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA));
  2. Have been separated or discharged under honorable conditions;
  3. Be physically and mentally able to work;
  4. Be available to work if offered a job;
  5. Be actively looking for work; and
  6. Meet the state’s work and wage requirements.

The laws of the state where the former service member files for UCX or Federal-State Unemployment Insurance benefits will determine what the work and wage requirements are. If a former service member files for benefits in Arizona, then Arizona’s rules will apply. A.R.S. § 23-771. To be eligible for UCX, a former service member also must have completed the first full term for which they enlisted (or, as a Reservist, completed 180 days of continuous active duty).

What are Arizona’s work and wage requirements?

Work requirements

In Arizona, the amount of benefits that an unemployed worker (including a former service member) may be eligible to receive is based on the wages (military pay grade) they earned during what is called their “base period.”

  • A “base period” is a one-year period. It is the first 4 of the last 5 full calendar quarters when the now unemployed worker earned wages before they applied for benefits.
  • The 4 calendar quarters are:
    • 1st Quarter: January 1 – March 31
    • 2nd Quarter: April 1 – June 30
    • 3rd Quarter: July 1 – September 30
    • 4th Quarter: October 1 – December 31

Examples

  • If an unemployed worker applies for benefits (by filing an “initial claim”) during the 1st Quarter (January through March) in the year 2020, then their “base period” is the 4th Quarter of 2018 plus the 1st Quarter of 2019 plus the 2nd Quarter of 2019 plus the 3rd Quarter of 2019. (Those are the first 4 of the 5 full previous quarters. The most recent of the 5 full previous quarters – the 4th Quarter of 2019 – is not counted.) 
  • If an unemployed worker applies for benefits (by filing an “initial claim”) during the 2nd Quarter (April through June) in the year 2020, then their “base period” is the 1st Quarter of 2019 plus the 2nd Quarter of 2019 plus the 3rd Quarter of 2019 plus the 4th Quarter of 2019. (Those are the first 4 of the 5 full previous quarters. The most recent of the 5 full previous quarters – the 1st Quarter of 2020 – is not counted.)
  • If an unemployed worker applies for benefits (by filing an “initial claim”) during the 3rd Quarter (July through September) in the year 2020, then their “base period” is the 2nd Quarter of 2019 plus the 3rd Quarter of 2019 plus the 4th Quarter of 2019 plus the 1st Quarter of 2020. (Those are the first 4 of the 5 full previous quarters. The most recent of the 5 full previous quarters – the 2nd Quarter of 2020 – is not counted.)
  • If an unemployed worker applies for benefits (by filing an “initial claim”) during the 4th Quarter (October through December) in the year 2020, then their “base period” is the 3rd Quarter of 2019 plus the 4th Quarter of 2019 plus the 1st Quarter of 2020 plus the 2nd Quarter of 2020. (Those are the first 4 of the 5 full previous quarters. The most recent of the 5 full previous quarters – the 3rd quarter of 2020 – is not counted.)

Wage requirements

To qualify for benefits, an unemployed worker must have earned:

  1. At least 390 times the Arizona minimum wage in their highest earning quarter of their base period;
  2. At least a total of half of that amount within one or more of the other three quarters of their base period (either alone or combined);
  3. At least $7,000 in total wages in at least two quarters of their base period; and
  4. At least $5,987.50 or more in total wages in one quarter of their base period.

How does a former service member apply for benefits?

Both the UCX program and the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance program are administered at the state level. The same application is used. The only difference is who pays for the benefits. Usually, employer contributions to the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance program cover an unemployed worker’s benefits. However, if the unemployed worker is a former service member who is eligible for UCX, then their benefits are covered by the branch of the U.S. military where they served.

In Arizona, the Department of Economic Security (DES) processes benefits claims.

Former service members and other unemployed workers can learn more about the application process and file a benefits claim online here: https://des.az.gov/services/employment/unemployment-individual.

 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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