Yes, Unemployment and Retirement Benefits
For many of us retirement does not occur on the date that we have planned for over several years. Sometimes we are involuntarily pushed into retirement by organizational changes, recessions, or management decisions (possibly motivated by ageism). One feature of the overlapping social safety nets in the US is that we can usually collect state unemployment insurance benefits at the same time we collect ‘retirement’ Social Security benefits from the Federal government.
This makes sense since, after Full Retirement Age, you can work and collect your full Social Security benefit without your earnings reducing that benefit. You may be receiving ‘retirement’ Social Security, but if you’re looking for work, then you’re unemployed.
Few states offset unemployment payments
Almost all states allow you to collect full unemployment benefits at the same time that you receive Social Security retirement benefits. Business interests in some states have encouraged state legislatures to cut (offset) unemployment benefits to someone who also receives Social Security benefits. This usually occurs during recessions when businesses see their unemployment insurance premiums increase after they have laid off employees. While businesses and people struggle during a down economy, you can expect to hear bluster about “double dipping.”
Since the end of the 2008 recession the trend has been for states to abandon Social Security offsets:
- Illinois repealed its “offset” effective January 3, 2016, http://repealoffsetnow.com/history.html.
- Virginia: “Beginning with the week ending July 9, 2011, social security pension/benefits will no longer result in a reduction of unemployment insurance benefits.” http://www.vec.virginia.gov/faqs/general-unemployment-insurance-questions#a142
- Utah: “For (unemployment) claims with an effective date on or after December 12, 2010, there is no reduction for social security retirement benefits.” http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r994/r994-401.htm#T4
State rules can change
However, in the past states have “fixed” budget deficits and placated business interests by reducing unemployment payments to people who also collect Social Security. Check your state’s current rules, particularly during a recession. If you search the internet for <your state’s name> unemployment social security, the search results should provide the information that you need. Look for a link to something like <your state’s name> Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook.
Note on Income Redistribution If you're a conservative, you may refuse to accept income redistributed by government under any circumstances. If so, offsets to either Social Security or unemployment ‘entitlements’ wouldn't affect you.