Do I need to report my pension to unemployment?


Q. I have worked in New Jersey for a few years and I am now collecting New Jersey unemployment. Can I continue to collect when my pension from New York City begins? Do I need to report the pension to unemployment? Is the pension considered a wage?
— Jobless

A. We’re sorry to hear you lost your job, but it’s great that you will have a pension.

The specifics of the pension are what’s important here.

Assuming you continue to meet all of the eligibility criteria for collecting New Jersey unemployment benefits, you would generally be permitted to collect unemployment benefits while you are collecting a pension, said Charles Pawlik, a certified financial planner and chartered financial analyst with Beacon Trust in Morristown.

“As per the Department of Labor website, to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in 2021, you need to have earned a minimum of $220 per week during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period, or have earned at least $11,000 in total covered employment during the base year period,” he said.

The base year period consists of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week you file an initial claim, he said.

In order to continue receiving benefits, you are also required to be able to work, be actively seeking work, and be available for and not refuse an offer of suitable work, though those rules were relaxed during the pandemic.

Generally speaking, Pawlik said, not all pensions affect unemployment claims, however income from pensions may affect the amount of unemployment benefits you are eligible to receive.

“Your unemployment benefits could be reduced if you are receiving a pension from an employer whom your claim is based on,” Pawlik said. “Under that circumstance, the potential impact to your unemployment benefits of collecting a pension would depend on whether or not you contributed towards the pension.”

If contributions to the pension were made solely by your base year period employer, then New Jersey requires that your unemployment benefit be reduced by 100% of the value of your weekly pension payment, he said. If both you and your base year period employer contributed towards your pension, then your unemployment benefit may be reduced by 50% of the value of your weekly pension payment, he said.

And there would be no reduction in your unemployment benefits if your employer made no contributions towards the pension.

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This story was originally published May 18, 2021. 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.