Can a Retired Person Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

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Unemployment benefits are overseen by states, and each has its own rules and regulations that determine when an individual is eligible to receive unemployment benefits and, if so, how much. However, being eligible for retirement, or even getting payments from a pension, will not disqualify you from obtaining unemployment benefits.


Reason for Job Termination

The most common requirement applied by states to determine eligibility for unemployment compensation concerns how you lost your job. In general, you cannot receive unemployment benefits if you were terminated because of misconduct or resigned from your job.

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Of course, not all claims regarding employee conduct are truthful, and even if your employer claims that the termination was due to your behavior, you can usually dispute such claims. The issue will likely be referred to an arbitrator who will listen to both sides and determine the true cause of termination.


Maximum Income Requirements

Another requirement is that your income after termination is below a critical threshold. Since unemployment benefits are intended to ease the financial hardship associated with job loss, the government does not want to allocate precious funds to individuals who do not experience such hardship. On the other hand, the states do not want to discourage people from looking for a job by denying unemployment benefits even to those who earn merely a small, complimentary income.

Therefore, most states will ask you to report your weekly or biweekly earnings and will only reduce your unemployment compensation if you are earning a moderate income. Only when your earnings exceed the critical threshold that is considered sufficient to live on will you be completely denied payment.


Status As a Retiree

States do not deny their residents unemployment benefits merely because they are retired. Connecticut's Department of Labor, for instance, notes that you may voluntary retire from your job and still be eligible to receive unemployment benefits provided that the purpose of the retirement was not to withdraw from the labor market.

States thrive when even citizens who are retired stay active and continue to work in some capacity. The law therefore does not treat individuals who are retired, but still continue to look for work, as a burden and will consider them legitimately unemployed.


Social Security and Pension

Not only will eligibility to retire not pose a problem, but even receiving retirement pay will usually not disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits.

In Florida, for instance, you can collect Social Security retirement benefits and state unemployment pay at the same time. When you also receive money from a company-sponsored retirement, however, your unemployment benefits will be reduced. Massachusetts and Wisconsin laws also state that receiving Social Security retirement payments won't affect your unemployment benefits, although in Massachusetts, company-sponsored retirement plans may depending on the circumstances.


In short, you can still receive unemployment benefits if you are retired. Even when you are receiving compensation as a retiree, you may still be able to collect unemployment benefits depending on the state and your intent to work.