Hi blog readers! In this week’s edition of “What’s Up Springfield?“, we’re shedding a little light on a topic that you may not be too familiar with.  That is, unless you’re an older worker who collects Social Security and got laid off from your job.  Allow me to explain….

SS499999Illinois is the only state in the nation that has not taken action to repeal a discriminatory law that unfairly penalizes older workers by reducing their unemployment benefits simply because they are receiving Social Security.  It’s called the Social Security Unemployment “offset” and AARP has been working with your elected leaders in Springfield since 2009 to try to get the offset repealed.

So, what does this mean for older workers in Illinois?  Essentially, the offset reduces a person’s unemployment benefits by 50 cents for every dollar that person receives in Social Security.  For example, if someone receives $600 per month in Social Security benefits, their unemployment benefits will be reduced by $300 per month.  For some, this means that they will not receive any unemployment benefits if they lose their job.  Currently, the offset impacts over 17,000 older workers in Illinois – and approximately 10% of those workers receive no unemployment benefits as a result of the offset.

The offset was originally established as a consequence of a federal law.  However, over the last 20+ years, most states have repealed the offset – but not Illinois.  We now stand as the only state in the nation that hasn’t taken action to address this unjust and discriminatory law.

The reality is that employers pay unemployment insurance on ALL of their workers, regardless of age.  All workers, regardless of age, should receive their full unemployment benefit.  The vast majority of Social Security recipients who work do so because Social Security benefits are simply not enough to live on.  To further penalize these individuals when they lose their jobs by reducing or eliminating their unemployment benefits is simply wrong.

The good news is that there is something you can do to help.  Call your state representative and urge him or her to support House Bill 3042 and repeal the Social Security Unemployment Offset!  Not sure who to call?  Visit the Illinois General Assembly website or use the “Legislator Lookup” tool from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Want to know more about this issue?  Contact AARP Illinois.