Your DD214 is your record of discharge from active duty. In addition to serving as a way to verify your awards, decorations and the honorable nature of your discharge, your DD214 can also help you qualify for unemployment benefits. Many veterans struggle with the transition from active duty in the armed services of the United States to civilian life. Once you are no longer taking a steady paycheck from the military, you may need some transitional assistance as you move to finding work in the civilian world.
Unemployment Benefits Overview
Generally, unemployment benefits are administered at the state level. This means the specific rules for qualifying for unemployment benefits are different, depending on the state in which you list your home of record. To qualify for unemployment, you need to show state officials evidence that you had a steady income from qualified employment, sometimes for over a year prior to filing. If you have been discharged following a short tour, this could affect you ability to qualify for benefits based solely on your military income. However, if you have been discharged at the end of a combat tour of a year or more as a reservist, Guardsman or at the expiration of your enlistment in the military, you should not have a problem qualifying.
Qualification for Unemployment
State rules vary, but typically, you must show that you have experienced job loss through no fault of your own. A DD214 showing an honorable discharge will help you document that loss of income, because you cannot get a DD214 without having been discharged from active duty. However, if your DD214 shows a general discharge, rather than an honorable one, as a result of misconduct on your part, this could endanger your ability to qualify for unemployment benefits.
You must apply for unemployment benefits in your home state. Typically, this is the state you have listed on your leave and earnings statement as your home of record, though some states will accept an application based on your last duty station. These two locations are not necessarily the same. It may depend on the state to which you have been paying state income taxes, if any, while in the service. To apply, visit the state Department of Labor website in the state in which you want to apply.
Generally, unemployment benefits are offset by any income you earn from working. Therefore, if you continue serving in the reserve component of the armed forces, you may find your unemployment benefits reduced by the amount of your reserve or National Guard pay. Additionally, you must wait until your income ceases prior to filing. This means you may have to wait until your terminal leave period expires prior to applying for unemployment.