Have we got an exciting announcement today!
For too long, jobless Illinoisans suffered with denied or reduced unemployment benefits simply because they had reached the age of 62 or older, and were receiving the Social Security benefits to which they were entitled. Illinois was the last state in the nation still enforcing an outdated law that punished older workers. To correct that, the General Assembly today took swift action, passing House Bill 1285 by a vote of 110-0.
“It did not make any sense for Illinois to being the lone holdout in the nation and continue to punish older workers who were trying to survive in today’s economy, many of whom had to return to the job market, and saw their Unemployment Insurance benefits diminished simply because they were receiving the Social Security they earned,” said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. “On behalf of our 1.7 million members, and Illinoisans aged 50+, we would like to thank Senator Heather Steans, State Representative Kelly Cassidy, and all sponsors and supporters of this bill, for standing up for Illinois’ older workers.”
Nancy Solomon who is an AARP volunteer and personal victim of this law has tirelessly lobbied for its repeal since 2009. She said “When I heard that it passed 110-0 today I was so excited and happy that I cried! I’d like to thank everyone who worked on this all these years and I’m exceedingly grateful – it truly does take a village.” Solomon, who has developed a reputation with Illinois legislators as a tireless warrior on this issue says that she’s not sure what’s next for her. “I’ve been working on this for six years…and never experienced anything like it before. I guess I’ll just see what legislators do to make me mad next and start working on that!”
Illinois was the last state still enforcing the so-called Social Security unemployment “offset” law. In a tight economy, this unfair law made things worse for older, unemployed workers, and AARP had been fighting for years to repeal it.
Older workers receiving Social Security work because those benefits are decidedly not enough to live on. These are individuals struggling to afford the rising costs of health care, caregiving for a parent or spouse, raising grandchildren, and other everyday items necessary to survive.
Employers fully pay into the unemployment fund for all their workers, no matter what their age. All workers should receive their full unemployment payments, also no matter what their age.
The repeal of the Social Security unemployment offset law means that the money they receive will also quickly return into the economy to pay necessary expenses these older workers struggle with when their benefits are reduced.
“This bill gives eligible workers the ability to fully collect the unemployment benefits they are due,” Gallo added. “This is a great victory for Illinois workers, and we urge Governor Rauner to sign this measure into law as soon as possible.”