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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.”

Examples

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.