Can Older Employees Draw Unemployment Benefits and Social Security Retirement?

As individuals approach retirement age, many find themselves grappling with the decision of whether to continue working or fully retire. The prospect of job loss in such a scenario can raise questions about eligibility for unemployment benefits, especially when one is already receiving or scheduled to receive Social Security retirement benefits.

Understanding Unemployment Benefits in Virginia:

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) administers unemployment benefits in the state, providing financial assistance to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. To determine eligibility, the VEC considers various factors, including the claimant’s work history, reason for separation from employment, and other earned income. Regardless of age, to receive unemployment benefits, the potential worker also must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.

Earned Income vs. Social Security Retirement:

Social Security is a federal program that provides financial assistance to retirees based on their lifetime contributions. Regardless of their retirement status, workers are eligible to draw their Social Security retirement benefits once they reach their qualified retirement age.

The Virginia Employment Commission considers other earned income when determining eligibility and benefit amounts for unemployment benefits. Other earned income can include wages, severance benefits, secondary jobs, or other compensation received for work performed. In most cases, unemployment benefits will be offset by other earned income. However, under Virginia Code Section 60.2-604, the weekly benefit amount payable to an individual for any week is not reduced by any amount of Social Security Act or Railroad Retirement Act retirement benefits for that week. This distinction allows individuals over their qualified retirement age to draw both unemployment and regular social security retirement benefits if they lose their job and still want to return to the workforce.

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