Can You Collect Both Unemployment and Social Security?

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Can you collect unemployment benefits if you are getting Social Security? Laid-off workers who receive Social Security benefits should be able to collect unemployment if they lose their job, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. In most cases, you can receive both Social Security and unemployment benefits.

Here's information on how Social Security affects unemployment benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • In most cases, eligible workers can collect both Social Security and unemployment benefits.
  • Collecting unemployment won't affect your Social Security benefits because it's not counted as wages.
  • Eligibility for unemployment benefits varies among states. Check with your state unemployment department for information on qualifying for 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

Collecting unemployment compensation won't 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.

Social Security's Impact on Unemployment Compensation

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.

How To File for Unemployment

Eligibility for unemployment, the length of time one can receive unemployment, and the total amount of benefits received, vary among states. 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.

Disqualifications from Unemployment

There are 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 from unemployment include being self-employed or leaving to attend school.

What To Do if Your Claim is Denied

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.

Learn More About Your Social Security Benefits

One way to learn more about 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 include the dates you received these benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have to report unemployment benefits to Social Security?

Social Security doesn't consider unemployment benefits as income, so it's not a factor when you're collecting unemployment.

Do you have to report Social Security income when you file for unemployment?

Requirements for reporting income vary by state. Check with your state unemployment department for guidelines on what you need to report when you file for unemployment.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CNBC. "Unemployed and Eligible for Social Security?"

  2. Social Security Administration. "Will Unemployment Benefits Affect My Social Security Benefits?"

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?"

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "Benefit Denials."

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