New MN Law Removes Barrier for Older Residents Seeking Jobless Benefits
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
A new Minnesota law, which goes into effect Sunday, removes requirements restricting Social Security recipients from receiving full jobless benefits as well.
Bill sponsors noted Minnesota was the last state to have the offset requirement. It reduced by 50% unemployment aid for laid-off workers who, within the first year, either received or started to apply for Social Security.
Kate Schaefers, volunteer state president of AARP Minnesota, said it had a profound effect on older workers as the pandemic began to take shape. She pointed to testimony from a Rochester man who had worked part-time in retail and lost his job but had no unemployment benefits to supplement his income.
"He told us that he cut back on expenses, including his medication, because he couldn't afford them living just off of his Social Security check," Schaefers recounted.
Schaefers pointed out they are disappointed the changes are not retroactive, leaving out many residents devastated by the crisis. But she noted supporters secured a compromise with the Senate by starting the repeal date this year, as opposed to waiting longer to appease concerns about the unemployment fund's balance.
Schaefers said looking ahead, the repeal will be beneficial to the growing number of older adults who cannot afford to solely rely on their pension in the face of rising consumer costs.
"This is a key part of their retirement ... continued work," Schaefers explained. "This is going to benefit them if they get laid off; that they can access those unemployment benefits."
The group estimated 16% of Minnesotans 62 and older receiving Social Security are still in the labor force. It added the benefits are modest, averaging nearly $1,600 a month in Minnesota.
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