We receive a steady stream of questions about collecting unemployment benefits and Social Security retirement income.
This comes as no surprise, since unemployment has increased dramatically at a time when more and more age 62+ Social Security recipients continue to work - and, unfortunately, lose their jobs due to a poor economy.
The short answer is "yes." Not so many years ago, a federal law required that states offset unemployment compensation benefits in part, or in full, for individuals receiving Social Security retirement payments. A subsequent federal law then permitted states to decide on such "Social Security offsets" through legislation - and thank goodness they did.
Today, no states have retained the offset rule. Beginning in 2008, state-by-state efforts were undertaken, with Illinois as the final holdout, repealing its offset rule in 2015.
This is in stark contrast to 2002, when 22 states still had offset rules, with five of those requiring a 100 percent offset. That meant that if you received Social Security retirement payments and lost your job, you received no unemployment compensation. With the combined efforts of major advocacy groups, including the National Employment Law Project and AARP, all offset laws have been repealed.
"In 2002, we could not have foreseen how radically the economy would change within a few years," said Clare Hushbeck, who led the advocacy effort for AARP. "The drive to repeal unemployment compensation offsets permits countless Social Security recipients to benefit from employer-paid unemployment benefits free of offsets and allowing them a stronger safety net in the event of job loss."