This morning's unemployment news -- no new jobs at all in August -- isn't very good news for anyone contemplating retirement and it is apparently encouraging some on the verge of retirement to double dip. They are collecting unemployment -- in some cases as long as 99 weeks -- and also filing for Social Security.
The Fiscal Times, which specializes in calculating the cost of government, figured out that there are at least a million people formerly employed in the private sector who are collecting both. Plus, there are more than 300,000 state employees who apparently have retired, began collecting a pension, then went back to work and were laid off and are double-dipping.
It's not illegal. It's just expensive for taxpayers and our overburdened system.
More than anything, this illustrates how poorly Social Security is designed. I've been working on a story for Bankrate.com's retirement planning channel about ways to maximize Social Security (the story will be published this month). The piece talks about ways to claim Social Security that aren't obvious, but net you more money. In some cases, the difference over 20 years is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
My husband, who is a CPA and runs the actuarial department for an insurance company, snorted when I asked for help figuring out the specifics of this article. When he got into the details he was shocked that it was possible to do these kinds of machinations legally.
Every day, I see a new plan for cutting back the costs of Social Security and Medicare, programs that senior citizens depend on for their very lives. If I were the guy in charge, I'd start by eliminating these loopholes. It would be a painless way to save billions.