Can I Still Collect Unemployment if I Join the Navy Reserves?

Pay from the Navy Reserve may not reduce your unemployment benefits.
Pay from the Navy Reserve may not reduce your unemployment benefits. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Unemployment insurance is a program funded by both the federal and state governments. Although there are basic requirements, state laws governing unemployment benefits can differ from the federal law. Most states require claimants to report all earnings, regardless of the source, when filing a claim. Your state’s employment agency is the most reliable resource when you have questions regarding eligibility and collecting unemployment benefits.

Types of Reserve Units

Like the other branches of the military, the Naval Reserve includes Selected Reserve units. Members must participate in regular weekend drills and annual training, for which they receive pay. Reservists in the Standby Reserve do not drill regularly and are not paid. However, some members of the Individual Ready Reserve receive pay even though they are not assigned to a unit and do not participate in regular drills. Individuals in the Ready Reserve can be involuntarily called to active duty, or required to serve up to 30 days of active duty each year. Those who perform various types of active duty service may receive pay or benefits.

Filing for Benefits

You must provide complete information and report all wages and other income when filing for weekly or bi-weekly unemployment benefits. Failing to do so can raise questions about your eligibility and may result in your claim being rejected. Report compensation income you earn as a member of the Navy Reserve for the calendar week you file an unemployment claim. You must report compensation in the week you earn it, even if you do not receive payment until a later date.

Reporting Wages

When filing your unemployment claim, you will be asked to indicate the gross amount of any wages you earned during that week, including military reserve pay. You may also be asked to designate the number of hours you worked. Not reporting that you worked and received wages can result in an overpayment of benefits. Normally, your weekly unemployment benefits are reduced if you receive wages from work. Some states do not deduct from the benefit amount wages you earn as a member of a reserve component of the military for inactive duty training or annual training.

Failure to Report

In the past, some claimants failed to report reserve pay they received for participating in weekend drills and annual training. Usually, claimants were unaware of their state’s laws requiring them to report it as income when receiving unemployment benefits. This often resulted in overpayment of unemployment benefits. Many state employment agencies now explain in the claimant handbook whether that state’s laws require you to include reserve pay as wages when filing an unemployment insurance claim.

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