New Mexico’s Veterans are entitled to Federally Funded Unemployment Insurance (UCX)

UCX

There are many New Mexican’s who have volunteered to serve their country and join the military. They serve their time and return to this beautiful state. They start looking for a job and wonder where their next paycheck may come from. Some of them are unaware that the Federal Government has a program that provides them with unemployment insurance. It is a 100% Federally funded program that costs New Mexico absolutely nothing.Recently discharged members of the military may be eligible for unemployment insurance under the unemployment for ex-servicemembers program (UCX). There are certain requirements that all ex-servicemembers must meet to be eligible for the program.

ELIGIBILITY

An individual can receive payment of UCX if they have Federal military service/wages in the base period under New Mexico law (the first four of the last five completed quarters prior to benefit year as provided in NMSA 1978 Section 51-1-42 A or the alternate base period)NMAC 11.3.300.7(U). The individual may be covered by Federal wages alone or in combination with other wages covered under New Mexico law. Federal military service means active service (not including active duty in a reserve status unless for a continuous period of 90 days or more) in the Armed Forces or the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The individual must have completed the agreed upon term of service and received an honorable discharge/release from the respective service. Under certain circumstances the individual may have been released/discharged earlier than the agreed upon term. These circumstances include: convenience of the government early release; medical disqualification, pregnancy, parenthood, or any service-incurred injury or disability; hardship; or personality disorders or inaptitude but only if the service was continuous for 365 days or more.

PROCESS

An individual will make UCX claims in the same manner as any person applying for UI in the state of New Mexico. If the individual makes a claim for UCX benefits, the state will determine if the individual meets the outlined criteria. When a UCX claim is taken, the state will request a copy of the individuals DD-214 and must send an automated “request” to the Federal Claims Control Center (FCCC) to request wage and separation information. This request begins the process that will determine if the claimant has “Federal military service” for UCX purposes. If so, the claimant may use the Federal military service and wages to determine UCX eligibility.

CORRECTIONS/APPEALS

If incorrect information on the DD-214 makes an individual disqualified for UCX, the individual may ask for a correction and redetermination.  The individual will make a written request to Workforce Solutions with any relevant paperwork attached. Workforce Solutions will forward the request to the FCCC. Individuals may request to correct: the beginning and ending dates of their active service period and “days lost”; the type of active duty discharge or release; pay grade at the time of active duty discharge or release; the narrative reason or other reason for separation from active service; and the condition of discharge (if other than honorable). If there is no record at the FCCC, the FCCC will contact the appropriate branch of the military to request a copy of the claimant’s DD 214. If this occurs, NM Workforce Solutions should begin the affidavit process using a copy (other than copy 1) of the claimant’s DD 214.

An individual has the right to appeal using the system put into place by the state of New Mexico. There no specific measures in place for veterans to take if a state fails to comply with the C.F.R.

 

BENEFIT AMOUNT

Once the individual is determined to have Federal military service and wages for the base period determined by New Mexico, the individual is eligible for UCX.  The individuals service/wages will be assigned to New Mexico and will be used to determine the weekly and maximum benefit amount. The computation can be determined using Federal wages alone or in combination with approved wages as per New Mexico law. The Federal government will pay the state based on the ratio of federal wages to state wages. For example, if federal wages are the only wages used in the computation, the Federal government will pay 100%. If federal wages make up half of the computation and state wages make up the other half, the federal government will pay 50%. The individual is required to comply with all state regulations concerning UI.

NEW MEXICO AND UCX

Currently, it is difficult to determine if the state of New Mexico is in complete compliance with 20 C.F.R. § 614. The state of New Mexico does not currently have a code or regulation that address’s the UCX program.  Neither NMSA 1978 Section 51-1 nor NMAC 11.3.300 mentions federal or military service. Only § 51-1-7(A)(1)(c) has any mention of the military, but the section refers to spouses of military members who are changing stations, being mobilized, or deployed. The NM Workforce Solutions website does not mention the program. There is a veteran’s link on the website that discusses multiple programs, but the site does not address UCX. Many other states mention the program on their websites, explain eligibility requirements, and list required documentation for veterans.

STATISTICS

The unemployment rate for veterans is extremely high. In 2012, the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military from September 2001 to the present (Gulf War era II) was 9.9% compared to non-veterans at 7.9%. Veterans in that category who were between the ages of 18-24 had an unemployment rate of 20.4%. Women veterans (Gulf War era II) had an unemployment rate 12.5% compared to non-veteran women at 7.7%. There are 308 UCX participants currently in the state of New Mexico (week ending May 11, 2013).

CONCLUSION

Although most veterans know of this program, there are many who do not. New Mexico does not provide clear instructions on the Workforce Solutions website and phone conversations can take hours. The system is very cumbersome and difficult. These veterans need an easier way to access the programs like many other states. Most states provide links and info on their sites. It is time for New Mexico to step up and get with the times.

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