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Millionaires on unemployment

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, October 8, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Working Americans pay for unemployment insurance, so should there be an income cap on who can claim it? The Congressional Research Service reported that 2,362 households with an annual income of $1 million or more received unemployment assistance in 2009, causing some lawmakers to erupt in outrage.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., wrote to Bloomberg: "Sending millionaires unemployment checks is a case study in out-of-control spending. Providing welfare to the wealthy undermines the program for those who need it most while burdening future generations with senseless debt."

The report says the millionaire households receiving unemployment represent 0.02 percent to 0.03 percent of all taxpayers who report receiving it. In addition to the millionaire households, more than 120,000 households with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000 claimed unemployment in 2009 and more than 825,000 households earning between $100,000 and $200,000 claimed it.

At issue for Congress is the extension of unemployment benefits "at a time when the federal government and the states face serious budget constraints," according to the report. In the second quarter of this year, more than 4.6 million people filed initial unemployment claims and 1.1 million people saw their benefits run out.

In February 2009, Congress expanded the time period states could pay unemployment benefits, from 26 weeks to a maximum of 99 weeks. In the fiscal year that just ended Sept. 30, the federal deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion, leaving lawmakers scrambling for reductions. One idea is to restrict or eliminate unemployment benefits to high-income earners.

Do you agree with some members of Congress that one way to reduce the deficit is to eliminate unemployment benefits for high-income earners? And at what income level would you draw the line?

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October 09, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Coming soon to all Americans, Workers comp, unemployment benefits, healthcare and malpractice if you want that protection you'll have to insure yourself. Citizens United is a virtual guarantee business will relieve itself of all responsibility to employees, no matter who's in office. You'll virtually be working day to day with no strings attached, just like they did in the 30's. Americans will be going to China for a good job.

Karen B
October 09, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Well if you pay into it why shouldn't you be able to collect unemployment. If you lose your job no matter how much money you make you should be able to collect. If you are a millionaire and lose everything but paid into it yes you should be able to collect unemployment, otherwise they will start putting a cap on everyone's income when you collect unemployment. As long as you pay into it you are entitled to collect unemployment when you need it. What gets me mad is when you lose your job and collect unemployment and then the government says Okay you collected too much we are cutting you off. This is where it hurts people when they really need it. It's not like your going to get rich living on unemployment. Most people now a days want to work but can't get hired. Why should there be a limit of a year in this bad economy when it's hard to find jobs. If people could still collect till they find a job it will help them get through the bad times. It's when they cut you off when you really need it that hurts. We wouldn't have so many people loosing their homes. Yes there are people taking advantage of the situation and there will always be, but the good people out way the bad.

October 09, 2012 at 3:18 pm

@Smitty - You don't say what state you are in but in PA, the workers do pay into the system under SUI. We pay for the insurance so that if we are laid-off, we at least have something coming in. Even if it is less than 50% of what you were making. I had to survive for a year and a half on that. You really find ways of making things work when that happens.

October 09, 2012 at 3:14 pm

If you don't want them to take the benefit, don't have them buy the insurance. As long as they paid for it, they're entitled. Maybe UI should be optional.

Rubbie A. Greenewald
October 09, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I was out of work once, for 3 weeks, back in 1972. After 2 weeks I signed up for unemployment, but went to work at another job shortly thereafter. I can't recall if I got one check, or no check, but that was the most I collected.

My employers have paid an insurance premium to the state for me to collect State Unemployment Benefits since 1972. Regardless of how much income I now make, or assets that I own, why should I be unable to collect the unemployment benefit if I lose my position?

Collecting "Welfare" is a different matter. There should be strict guidelines on who is eligible to collect welfare checks, including assets owned; and, recipients should pass drug tests to be able to collect government welfare. If I am required to pass drug tests to earn my taxible income, those who are receiving my tax amounts as welfare income should pass the same tests.

October 09, 2012 at 3:07 pm

That's why the Rich get Richer and the Poor get Poorer!!!

what a state we are in
October 09, 2012 at 2:48 pm

If you are a millionaire you have plenty of bank accounts that you can tap into to survive until you can get another job oh but
wait we can't expect you to do that can we but the middle class are expected to they can't have any accounts before they will be helped.

October 09, 2012 at 2:32 pm

no enemployment for anyone making 200,000 opr m,ore.

October 09, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Mi. Gov. Rick Snyder, cut unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, the lowest in the nation. After 10 weeks of seeking same pay employment, Michiganders must apply for and accept minimum wage jobs or be cut off. Pay attention these laws will be coming to your state soon. Can't wait to see a millionaire greeting me at Wal-mart. Some poor guy has the ability and intelligence to generate and spend millions of dollars and our legislators thinks it would serve him and the tax payers well to work a $7.00 job, the minute he has a hicup. What Bull***t

October 09, 2012 at 2:14 pm


In some states, workers DO pay at least half of the premiums.