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Jobless And Social Security Benefits Can Be Collected Simultaneously

Question: Can I collect unemployment and Social Security benefits at the same time without getting into trouble?

Answer: People who are 62 or older do qualify for Social Security benefits (SS). Full retirement is a different age for everyone who was born after 1938. This has been a gradual change based on your year of birth. For people born in 1955, their full retirement age is 66 and 2 months, but they may enroll in Medicare since they are turning 65, So we will use 1955 as our sample birth year.

People born in 1955 turned 62 in 2017. This means that they could collect SS any time after they turned 62 in 2017 if they were not working. There are earnings limits when you are working and collect SS. In 2020 you would still qualify for SS, but you may not have filed for benefits because you were working. When you stop working, it is worth considering collecting SS.

If you are collecting unemployment and SS, they are not disqualifying type of incomes. You are allowed to collect both unemployment and SS without putting each in jeopardy or breaking any rules. Both are taxable sources of income, so keep that in mind prior to filing your next year’s income tax. You can have taxes taken out during the year or pay taxes when you file.

When you file when you are 65, you will get slightly less each month than if you waited until 66 and 2 months to collect. The other side to collecting your SS is that you get the money now, when your income is probably lower than it was while you were working.

If you get called back to work you may be impacted by the earnings limit of $18,240 for those born in 1955 or after. When you earn more than that amount and collect SS, $1 of your SS for each $2 that you earn is held back. So, if your income is high, you could be required to pay all or part of the SS back until you reach full retirement age. But if you don’t earn more than that, you could collect your early retirement benefits to help meet your budget.

In 2021 for those born in 1955, the earnings limit still applies, but in a different way. The earnings only count up to the month you turn 66 and 2 months. The amount you can earn increases to up to over $48,000 per year without impacting your SS benefit. The SS deduction changes to $1 taken from your SS for each $3 you earn, so the pay back is lower while your earnings can be higher.

If it looks like you will not work much in 2020 and if you went back to work in 2021, you could still be okay due to the higher earnings limit. Once you reach 66 and 2 months you can make any amount of money and still collect your SS.

If you turn 65 you must also look at your Medicare decision, so this is a good time to think about collecting SS as well.

You can reach out to Social Security Administration to review your situation, no matter what your age. The national contact is (800) 772-1213. The Jamestown contact is (877) 319-3079, and the Olean contact is (877) 319-5773. The sss.gov website is also available.

Senior Life Matters is a community-based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 720-9797 or e-mail SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.

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