After retirement, can I get unemployment benefits?


Q. I am currently retired from my job of 25 years. Prior to retirement, I injured my knee and had surgery. I also reinjured my knee and need a second surgery. I am unable to seek employment at this time. Am I able to collect unemployment?
— Retired

A. This is a rough question to answer during these coronavirus times.

There are relaxed rules for those who have lost their jobs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In normal times, for you to collect unemployment benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with AXA Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

In other words, you would have had to be fired or laid off, she said.

“If you have begun to receive payments from a pension or your old 401(k), then you are most likely not eligible to receive unemployment benefits, or your benefits would be reduced,” she said.

You didn’t say when you retired. To qualify for benefits, you’d need to have worked enough weeks to be eligible.

One of the other criteria — pre-coronavirus — is that you must be able to work and be actively seeking work.

“If you are not intending to return to the work force, then you are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits,” D’Agostini said.

With the relaxed rules because of coronavirus, you could apply and be approved — but if the Department of Labor later finds you were not eligible, you could have to pay the benefits back.

Is it worth taking the chance?

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This story was originally published on April 17, 2020. 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.