Can You Get Unemployment Benefits When You Retire in California?

Unemployment benefits are a form of payment from the government created to help people who have recently lost their jobs pay for bare essentials while they are looking for a new job. These benefits are for people who did not wish to leave their job but lost it due to layoffs or other reasons beyond their fault. In California, as elsewhere, a retiree does not qualify for unemployment benefits.


Unemployment Benefits

In California, a person can only apply for unemployment benefits if he has lost his job involuntarily or been forced out. This is because benefits are not provided for people who can work but do not wish to. While other benefits are available to certain types of retirees, unemployment benefits are only for people of a working age who are looking for a job.


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A person who retires is a person who voluntarily leaves the work force. A retiree will, in almost all cases, have some money, either savings, a government stipend or another form of income, such as a pension, available to him. If a person chooses to retire, he was not forced out of the work force.


Basis for Denial

There are multiple reasons a retiree would be denied benefits besides his leaving his job voluntarily. For one, all receivers of benefits must be actively looking for a job; the retiree presumably is not. Also, the retiree is likely receiving income from another source. If this income is sufficient, then he will make more than the maximum amount allowed of someone who is receiving unemployment benefits.



A person who has lost his job might be initially eligible for benefits, but then choose to retire. In such a case, a person can receive benefits for the maximum amount of time (as of May 2011, a California retiree could receive benefits for a maximum of 99 weeks), so long as he continues looking for a job. If the search is fruitless, he may choose to retire, as which point he would have to stop receiving benefits.