Receipt of Unemployment Insurance by Higher-Income Unemployed Workers (“Millionaires”)

Source: Donald Hirasuna, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R42643, January 23, 2013

…To inform the ongoing policy debate, this report provides information relevant to proposals that would restrict the payment of unemployment benefits to individuals with high incomes. Three primary areas that may be of interest to lawmakers are addressed: (1) the current U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) opinion on means-testing UI benefits; (2) the potential number of people who would be affected by such proposals; and (3) policy considerations such as the potential savings associated with such proposals, particularly in terms of federal expenditures. The latter two issues are discussed because a small percentage (approximately 0.02%) of tax filers receiving unemployment benefit income had AGI of $1 million or more in tax year 2009 based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data….

…This report addresses many of the questions that have arisen regarding such proposals, including the potential number of people who would be affected and the potential savings to federal and state governments. To place these proposals into context, the report provides a brief overview of the UI system and explains why receipt of UI benefits is not restricted based on income under current law. It then presents Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data on the distribution of household income and unemployment benefits for tax years 2008 and 2009 to shed light on the size of the group potentially affected by such proposals. The report raises policy considerations such as the potential impact of such proposals on federal expenditures, given the joint federal-state nature of unemployment programs. Finally, it summarizes relevant legislation in the 112th Congress…