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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 SSI or SSDI does not automatically result in disqualification for UI benefits. See this SSA memorandum. A memorandum by DUA 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 Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) (as distinguished from Retirement) or Supplemental Security Income (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 person may still be able to work on either a full‑time or part-time basis. Claimants who are receiving SSI and SSDI must provide medical documentation (Form 268, Appendix Q) that the claimant can work, so that no disqualification will be imposed. Only if the documentation indicates that the claimant is unable to work should the Notice of Disqualification (Form 3720) be issued. Claimants who are receiving SSI or SSDI while working part-time must document the number of hours worked and the number of hours that the claimant is capable of working. If the claimant is working at least 15 hours per week, the claimant would not be considered unemployed and would be subject to disqualification under Sections 29(b) and 1(r) of G.L. c. 151A. In all instances, no presumption should be made that a claimant is disqualified without determining whether or not the claimant can work full-time or part-time, with or without reasonable accommodation, or without giving the claimant 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 non-deductible pensions include IRA Plans, Keough Plans, Railroad Retirement, and any withdrawal of Pension Contributions.

Pensions & 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 and available and actively seeking work. A claimant who receives a pension or retirement benefit which is financed wholly by a base period employer will have his or 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. No deduction is made if the pension if 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).