Can I Draw Unemployment in Colorado If in the Military?

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Veterans may qualify for unemployment benefits not available to most civilians.
Veterans may qualify for unemployment benefits not available to most civilians. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Transitioning from active duty to the civilian world isn’t always easy. While dealing with the culture shock that may come with exposure to civilian organizations and adjusting to a much less structured lifestyle can be tricky, finding a job after leaving the service can also be problematic. Former members of the uniformed services may receive a type of unemployment benefits from the Colorado Department of Labor to help make ends meet while they search for their first civilian job.

Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers

Because Colorado’s civilian unemployment insurance program requires that beneficiaries be unemployed by no fault of their own, troops who muster out of the military voluntarily don’t qualify for that program. Instead, the state administers a Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers program, or UCX, that provides benefits to recently discharged service members. To qualify for UCX, a former military member must have served on active duty. The Department of Veterans Affairs urges former military members to apply for UCX benefits as soon as they leave the service.

Applying for UCX

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment administers its UCX program similar to the way in which it provides traditional unemployment benefits. UCX applicants must have separated from service within the previous 18 months and present a copy of their DD-214 discharge papers when they apply for benefits. Beneficiaries are also required to present identification, a Social Security number and a brief description of their job history. UCX benefits aren’t charity but paid from a tax paid by the Department of Defense on service members’ wages, similar to unemployment taxes paid by civilian employers.

Continued Eligibility Requirements

Once the Department of Labor and Employment approves a former military member’s initial UCX claim, beneficiaries must begin to look for work as if they receive traditional unemployment benefits. Veterans who receive UCX must be able and available to take a job should be offered and make the number of contacts required by the department each week. Veterans who receive UCX should also report any part-time or incidental earnings to the department, which may temporarily reduce the amount paid in a weekly benefit.

National Guard and Military Reserve Members

Members of a branch’s reserve or National Guard members may apply for traditional unemployment benefits if they lose their civilian jobs. Although most requirements for unemployment insurance beneficiaries apply to reservists and Guard members, they do not need to report earnings from the first 72 hours of duty each month, allowing them to collect drill pay without reducing their weekly claim amount. When Guard members or reservists go on active duty for their two-week training period, they must report all earnings past the first 72 hours. Beneficiaries do not need to look for work during times when they’re on active duty.

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