Can You Collect Both Unemployment and Social Security?

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Laid off workers who were collecting social security as well as working should be able to collect unemployment as long as they meet the eligibilty requirements. In most cases, you can collect both social security and full unemployment benefits.

Collecting Social Security and Unemployment

Full unemployment insurance benefits are available for eligible workers who are collecting social security in most states. In the past there were exceptions in some states where the amount of unemployment compensation was offset by some of the social security benefits that were received.

Eligibility requirements to qualify for unemployment compensation vary from state to state. In most states, you can collect both full unemployment benefits and social security. Check with your state unemployment office for details.

Social Security Offset Law

Previously, in some states, the amount of unemployment compensation was partially offset by the sum of social security payments that were received. In those locations, unemployment could have been reduced by 50% of your social security benefit.

It is called the "offset law" and, in the states where it was in effect, part of social security payments are counted as disqualifying income when calculating unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Benefits Impact on Social Security

While social security benefits might reduce your unemployment benefits (depending on in which state you live), collecting unemployment compensation will never reduce your social security benefits. That's because social security only counts wages as income when calculating benefits. Unemployment is not considered salary and, therefore, it is not counted.

Check With Your Unemployment Office

If you are collecting unemployment and receiving social security, check with your state unemployment office for information on how your unemployment compensation benefits are impacted. You can either look up this information on the official website, call the office, or visit in person.

Disqualifications for Unemployment

There are also circumstances when you might be completely disqualified from unemployment benefits. These include insufficient earnings, being fired for cause, or quitting without a good cause. Other disqualifications include being self-employed or leaving to attend school. Click here for an even longer list of unemployment benefit disqualifications.

If you file for unemployment and your claim is turned down, you can choose to file an unemployment appeal if you believe you should receive unemployment. The process varies depending on the state, but the general steps are the same.

When you file an unemployment appeal, you will attend a hearing (an informal trial held before an unemployment appeals board or judge) and testify as to why you believe you are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. Your former employer will also testify. Here is more information on how to file an unemployment appeal.

How to File for Unemployment

Eligibility for unemployment, the length of time one can receive unemployment, and the total amount of benefits received, vary state by state. The amount you will receive also depends on how much you earned at your former job.

You need to open a claim to apply for and begin collecting unemployment. For more information, check your state unemployment office website for information on what's required to file a claim in your state.

Learn More About Your Social Security

One way to learn more about your social security situation and how social security benefits might affect your unemployment benefits is to create a “my Social Security Account." It is an online account run by the Social Security Administration. You can create an online account, whether or not you currently receive social security benefits.

With a “my Social Security Account,” you can estimate your future benefits and get an estimate on the social security taxes you have paid so far.

You can also receive a benefit verification letter. This letter will state whether or not you are currently receiving, or have ever received social security benefits. It will also state whether you have applied for benefits but have not received them yet. The letter will also include the dates you have received these benefits.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. 

Article Sources

  1. CNBC. "Unemployed and Eligible for Social Security?" Accessed May 2, 2020.

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "Benefit Denials." Accessed May 2, 2020.

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?" Accessed May 1, 2020.