The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

43. Persons Receiving Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits, or a Pension

In order to qualify for UI benefits, an individual must be “capable of, available and actively seeking work.” G.L. c. 151A, § 24(b).

Social Security or Social Security Disability Payments

The Social Security Administration has made clear that the mere fact that a person is receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) (as distinguished from Retirement) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments does not automatically result in disqualification for UI benefits. See this SSA memorandum.  A DUA memorandum implementing this SSA guidance is also available.

Note: The SRH has not yet been updated to conform to this memorandum and continues to takes the position that the receipt of SSI or Supplemental Security SSI payments creates a presumption that one is unable to work due to disability, SRH § 1022.

DUA provides that the presumption may be rebutted with evidence that, with or without a reasonable accommodation and/or the availability of part-time work, the claimant may still be able to work on either a full‑time or part-time basis. A claimant receiving SSI and SSDI must provide medical documentation (See Appendix Q) that he can work, so that no disqualification will be imposed. Only if the documentation indicates that he is unable to work should DUA issue the Notice of Disqualification (Form 3720). Claimants receiving SSI or SSDI while working part time must document the number of hours worked and the number of hours that they are capable of working. A claimant who works at least 15 hours per week would not be considered unemployed and would be subject to disqualification under §§ 1(r) and 29(b) of G.L. c. 151A. In all instances, no presumption should be made that a claimant is disqualified without determining whether or not she can work full time or part time, with or without reasonable accommodation, or without giving her a reasonable opportunity to provide medical documentation. 

Social Security Retirement Benefits

Receipt of Social Security Retirement benefits does not cause any financial offset in UI benefits. (St. 2006, c. 123, §§ 67, 68, amending G.L. c. 151A, § 29(d)(6) to eliminate financial offset; SRH § 1720.) Other nondeductible benefits include those from IRA Plans, Keough Plans, Railroad Retirement, and any withdrawal of Pension Contributions.

Pension and Other Retirement Benefits

Receipt of pension or other retirement benefits from a base-period employer may affect the amount of UI benefits but does not affect UI eligibility as long as the individual is able, available, and actively seeking work. A claimant who receives a pension or retirement benefit that is financed wholly by a base-period employer will have her weekly UI benefits reduced by 100%; whereas, if the employee makes any contribution, the UI benefits are reduced by 50% of the weekly retirement benefit. Lynch v. Director of the Div. of Employment Security, 372 Mass. 864 (1977); BR-2015465 (5/19/14). No deduction is made if the pension is from a source other than the base-period employer, the lump-sum payment was made prior to the base period, or the pension is solely funded by the employee. G.L. c. 151A, § 29(d).