Q: Can I get unemployment benefits and collect Social Security checks at the same time? A: From the Social Security perspective: sure, why not! From the unemployment compensation perspective: maybe not! There is no federal Social Security law that prevents you from collecting unemployment insurance and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. But I'm not so sure what the unemployment folks would tell you. Unemployment laws vary from one state to another. I can tell you that I've gotten e-mails from other readers about this issue in the past. Some have told me their unemployment compensation was reduced when they went on Social Security. And others told me their unemployment benefits were cut off when their Social Security checks kicked in. So, you'll have to check with someone at your local unemployment office to learn about your state's rules. And here is one other note about Social Security and unemployment compensation. I was assuming you were talking about Social Security retirement benefits. If you were asking about collecting unemployment insurance and Social Security disability benefits — that's a different story. Once again, I'm not aware of any laws that specifically prohibit you from getting unemployment while you're getting disability payments. But I can tell you that Social Security officials are going to seriously review your disability claim — because you're obviously lying to one agency or the other. Think of it this way. To get unemployment, you are telling the state that you are actively looking for work. And to get Social Security disability benefits, you are telling the federal government that you are unable to work because of some physical or mental impairment. Q: I recently moved to London where I am working for an American corporation. I also do some part-time work for a British company. Prior to this, I spent many years living and working in the United States. I'm concerned about paying taxes in two different government retirement systems. And I'm also concerned about qualifying for benefits someday from the British and/or American Social Security systems. My mom sent some clippings from a past column where you mentioned Social Security tax treaties between countries. Can you elaborate on that? A: Over the years, the U.S. government has signed Social Security treaties with about 25 foreign governments. Each treaty is different, but essentially all of them are designed to help people like you. Given our global economy, many people spend part of their careers working in more than one country. In the past, that often led to situations where workers, and their employers, were forced to pay Social Security taxes into the retirement systems of both countries. And other times, when an employee was only required to pay taxes to one country, he or she could end up with limited retirement coverage from one country and not enough coverage from another country — leaving that person with meager retirement compensation. But the Social Security treaty agreements address these issues. They usually specify that Social Security taxes need to be paid into only one country's retirement system. And at retirement, they can allow a worker to use credits earned in one country to count toward a retirement payment from another country. As I said, each treaty agreement is different. And they are far more complicated and obviously have many more provisions than the simple examples I gave. To learn more about the treaty agreement between the United States and Great Britain, go to the international section of the U.S. Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/international and then click on "United Kingdom." Q: My wife and I are in our mid-60s and we're both on Social Security. We take care of two of our grandchildren because our daughter has problems with drug addiction. And their father has been out of the picture for years. Can we get extra Social Security for the grandkids? A: Probably not. As a general rule, benefits can be paid to grandchildren only if both of their parents are deceased or disabled. I suppose there is a chance your daughter could be classified as "disabled." But if their father is alive and well, albeit a deadbeat dad, the kids would not be due any Social Security on your accounts. If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at email@example.com. To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM.