Two-years ago the retail shoe store my father had been managing for countless years closed. My father, who was sixty-seven-years-old at the time, was unaware that he was eligible to collect unemployment compensation. He was already receiving social security benefits, and he was clearly past the age when one can retire. Fortunately for my parents, who relied on the income my father’s job generated, another family member, knowledgeable in labor law in the state of Pennsylvania stepped in and he was in fact able to collect unemployment compensation.
Tip #1 – Receiving social security benefits does not negate a seniors eligibility for unemployment compensation. If you were laid off due to lack of work, or for any matter that was not deemed “gross misconduct”, you may very well be eligible for unemployment compensation. Since unemployment laws and eligibility guidelines vary from state to state, I recommend that a senior (or anyone for that matter) laid off from work, contact their local unemployment office or log onto their state government web page and read the eligibility requirements for unemployment compensation.
Tip #2 – Your employer may not provide you with the “best” information
When my father’s store closed, his employer treated him as if he was voluntarily retiring. An employer, in most cases, does not have the ability to force a senior to retire. They may offer an incentive to retire, but that is a different situation. My advice to seniors, who have employers trying to get them to retire, is to contact an attorney or knowledgeable family member, before making any decisions. In many cases, the employer may be overstepping or even practicing “age discrimination.”
Tip #3 – Check into Cobra and the Cobra Subsidy for family members
If you are a senior citizen and eligible for Medicare, cobra and the current federal government funded cobra subsidy will not be an option for you, but if you have a younger spouse or dependents they may be eligible. Again, back to my father’s case. When my father lost his job, my mother, who is nine years his junior, still needed health care coverage. She was in fact eligible for coverage under Cobra. Had my father been laid off in 2009 or the first two months of 2010, she would have qualified for the cobra subsidy. The cobra subsidy picks up 65% of the cost of cobra coverage for qualified individuals. Those who do not qualify for Medicare or another health insurance program may be eligible for the cobra subsidy. This includes family members who were covered by the senior’s insurance.
Tip #4 – File an Appeal
This is advice that I would give to seniors or anyone else who has been denied unemployment compensation, when laid off due to any reason other than “gross misconduct.” Employers are notorious for denying unemployment claims. In most states, unemployment claims cost employers money and many times those requesting unemployment will fail to file an appeal, this is especially true with seniors. Not only do I advise filing an appeal bring an attorney to court with you if possible. Having an attorney present at an unemployment hearing lends credibility to your case, and may only cost a few hundred dollars. Many times unemployment appeals are in favor of the plaintiff, this is especially true when it involves seniors. No employer wants to be accused of “age discrimination,” which may very well be what has occurred.
If you are a senior who has lost your job, do not lose hope. You may very well be eligible for unemployment compensation. Keep a cool head and follow these tips and you may very well get the compensation you deserve.