How Pension Income and Retirement Account Withdrawals Can Impact Unemployment Benefits
As the economy continues to slow, unemployment claims continue to rise at historic rates. Due to this expected increase in unemployment, the CARES Act included provisions for Coronavirus related distributions which give people access to retirement dollars with more favorable tax treatment. Details on these distributions can be found here. With retirement dollars becoming more accessible with the CARES Act, a common question we are receiving is “Will a retirement distribution impact my Unemployment Benefits?”.
Unemployment Benefits vary from state to state and therefore the answer to this question can be different depending on the state you reside in. This article will focus on New York State Unemployment Benefits, but a lot of the items discussed may be applied similarly in other states.
The answer to this question also depends on the type of retirement account you are receiving money from so we will touch on the most common.
Note: Typically, to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, you must have been paid minimum wage during the “base period”. Base period is defined as the first four quarters of the last five calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter which the claim is effective. “Base period employer” is any employer that paid the claimant during the base period.
Money received from a pension that a base period employer contributed to will result in a dollar for dollar reduction in your unemployment benefit. Even if you partially contributed to the pension, 100% of the amount received will result in an unemployment benefit reduction.
If you were the sole contributor to the pension, then the unemployment benefit should not be impacted.
Even if you are retired from a job and receiving a pension, you may still qualify for unemployment benefits if you are actively seeking employment.
Qualified Retirement Plans (examples; 401(k), 403(b))
If the account you are accessing is from a base period employer, a withdrawal from a qualified retirement plan could result in a reduction in your unemployment benefit. It is common for retirement plans to include some type of match or profit-sharing element which would qualify as an employer contribution. Accounts which include employer contributions may result in a reduction of your unemployment benefit.
We recommend you contact the unemployment claims center to determine how these distributions would impact your benefit amount before taking them.
No unemployment benefit rate reduction will occur if the distribution is from a qualified IRA.
Knowing there is no reduction caused by qualified IRA withdrawals, a common practice is rolling money from a qualified retirement plan into an IRA and then accessing it as needed. Once you are no longer at the employer, you are often able to take a distribution from the plan. Rolling it into an IRA and accessing the money from that account rather than directly from the retirement plan could result in a higher unemployment benefit.
Hi, I’m Rob Mangold. I’m the Chief Operating Officer at Greenbush Financial Group and a contributor to the Money Smart Board blog. We created the blog to provide strategies that will help our readers personally, professionally, and financially. Our blog is meant to be a resource. If there are questions that you need answered, please feel free to join in on the discussion or contact me directly.