Can I Get Unemployment While Receiving a Pension in California?

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When you lose a job while collecting a pension from a previous job, those payments can impact the amount of California unemployment benefits you'll get each week. It is possible to maintain your unemployment benefits while collecting a pension, but you'll have to satisfy a number of requirements.

When you lose a job while collecting a pension you earned at a previous job, those payments can impact the amount of California unemployment benefits you'll get each week. It is possible to maintain your unemployment benefits while collecting a pension, but you'll have to satisfy a number of requirements under California law.

Receiving a Pension and California Unemployment

The California Employment Development Department, or EDD, will only reduce weekly unemployment insurance benefits by the amount of your pension or other retirement payment that's attributable to the same week if four criteria are met. A reduction is required if

  1. the pension relates to prior employment, 
  2. the wages earned from that employer are included in the base period used by the EDD to calculate your weekly benefit and 
  3. the plan is fully funded by the employer

    meaning you didn't contribute any of your own money to the plan. 4. Additionally, the time you put in with that employer during the base period must have either increased your pension benefit or enhanced the amount you have vested in it. 

If all four criteria apply to your situation and you receive a weekly pension of $150, California will reduce the amount of unemployment you're eligible for by $150.

If you contributed any of your own money towards your pension, then there will not be any deductions from your California Unemployment.

If you became fully vested in the pension or already worked enough years to receive the maximum benefit many years ago, this fact alone allows you to get California unemployment without any reduction for the pension payments.

Be aware that if your pension is from work as a federal, state, or municipal employee in California, you cannot be hired as an annuitant if you collected Unemployment in the previous 12 months.

About the Author

Michael Marz has worked in the financial sector since 2002, specializing in wealth and estate planning. After spending six years working for a large investment bank and an accounting firm, Marz is now self-employed as a consultant, focusing on complex estate and gift tax compliance and planning.