Every year in Illinois, thousands of unemployed older workers face age and economic discrimination due to an outdated state law that unfairly reduces their unemployment benefits. Illinois is one of only two states in the nation that still carry the law on their books, called the Social Security unemployment "offset" law. In a tight economy, this unfair law makes things worse for older, unemployed workers and AARP is fighting to repeal the law.
"Many older adults in Illinois are struggling to pay for basic necessities - and are working because they have to," said Nancy Funk, volunteer with AARP Illinois. "To penalize these workers after they become unemployed simply because of their age is unfair and clearly wrong."
Illinois is one of only two states in the nation, along with Louisiana, that has never taken action to repeal the offset and continues to penalize jobless older adults who receive Social Security. The offset law classifies one-half of an older adult's Social Security payment as disqualifying income for purposes of receiving unemployment benefits.
AARP is supporting legislation, Senate Bill 144 sponsored by Senator Heather Steans, House Bill 96 sponsored by Representative Karen May and House Bill 1115 sponsored by Representative Sidney Mathias, that would repeal the Social Security offset law in Illinois. Representative Mathias is also a chief co-sponsor on House Bill 96.
"We need to end this age discrimination right now," said Representative Karen May. "More and more seniors have to work to make ends meet, especially during this recession. Losing a job can be devastating to seniors as well as any citizen."
"After years of legislative stalemate, it's time to bring relief to the thousands of Illinois seniors who have been unfairly impacted by the offset law," said Representative Sidney Mathias. "I am proud to stand with AARP and support the repeal of the Social Security unemployment offset law."
"It's time to repeal the unfair and discriminatory social security offset law that denies seniors unemployment benefits simply because of their age," said Senator Heather Steans. "We are one of only two states that has not already done so; this is simply wrong."
Employers are required to pay into the unemployment fund fully for each of their workers, regardless of age. Repealing the unemployment offset will ensure that all workers receive their full unemployment benefits, regardless of age as well.