Can I get unemployment with severance, pension and Social Security?

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Q. Can I receive unemployment benefits while getting a severance package, a pension and Social Security?
— Planning ahead

A. Whether or not you qualify for unemployment benefits depends on the specifics of your case.

Before we get to the details, note that changes could be coming in the short term because of coronavirus. The government of New Jersey is considering options to expand unemployment benefits.

But until that happens, here are the current rules.

For starters, to have a valid unemployment claim in New Jersey, the claimant must have covered employment for at least 20 base weeks and the amount needs to have exceeded a base amount which is indexed each year, said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with AXA Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

“The State of New Jersey does not consider severance pay to be income and therefore you would be able to receive unemployment insurance,” D’Agostini said. “This is only possible if the severance does not extend the employment relationship in any way. You cannot remain on the active payroll.”

Unemployment benefits can be reduced if you are collecting a pension depending upon who contributed to the pension, she said.

It could be reduced by up to 100% if your employer contributed the entire amount. It may be reduced by 50% if both you and your employer contributed towards your pension. And if you contributed the entire amount towards your pension, there would be no reduction in your unemployment benefit, D’Agostini said.

“In New Jersey, you can collect your full unemployment benefits even if you are collecting Social Security,” she said. “Social Security does not count unemployment benefits as earnings.”

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This story was originally published on March 19, 2020.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.