You can't take voluntary buyout and qualify for jobless benefits

Can They Do That?

Your Money

July 25, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

I turned 62 in June and didn't have any plans to retire for at least two years. But my employer has offered a buyout package that is too good to turn down. Some of my co-workers contemplating the buyout said we might be able to collect unemployment benefits after we leave. What do you think? If I collect unemployment, will I be able to collect Social Security at the same time? I can't seem to get a definitive answer.

There's good news and bad news for you.

You won't qualify for the unemployment benefits if you take the buyout package, unless your company forces you to leave by eliminating your job. Judging from your comments, however, the choice seems to be purely yours. And a voluntary exit would generally disqualify you from unemployment benefits.

As to your second issue, the unemployment benefits won't affect your Social Security payments. So you can collect unemployment - for as long as you qualify - and Social Security at the same time. But as soon as you leave the work force permanently and begin to rely solely on Social Security or a pension for your primary income, you can't collect unemployment benefits anymore.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at

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