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    Thread: 2,400 Millionaires Collected Unemployment in 2009

    1. Senior Member beng's Avatar
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      10-02-2012 11:11 AM #1
      On the one hand, they paid into the system... on the other hand, they're millionaires... did they really *need* it. Discuss!

      Quote Originally Posted by bloomberg
      Wire: Bloomberg News (BN) Date: Oct 2 2012 5:00:15
      Almost 2,400 Millionaires Pocketed Unemployment Benefits in 2009

      By Frank Bass

      Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Almost 2,400 people who received
      unemployment insurance in 2009 lived in households with annual
      incomes of $1 million or more, according to the Congressional
      Research Service.
      The report was released after about 1.1 million people
      exhausted their jobless benefits during the second quarter of
      2012, when more than 4.6 million filed initial unemployment
      claims. Eliminating those payments to high earners is one idea
      being considered as U.S. lawmakers struggle to curb a projected
      $1.1 trillion deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30,
      with the nationwide jobless rate at 8.1 percent.
      “Sending millionaires unemployment checks is a case study
      in out-of-control spending,” U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, an
      Oklahoma Republican, said in an e-mail. “Providing welfare to
      the wealthy undermines the program for those who need it most
      while burdening future generations with senseless debt.”
      The 2,362 people in millionaire homes represent 0.02
      percent of the 11.3 million U.S. tax filers who reported
      unemployment insurance income in 2009, according to the August
      report. Another 954,000 households earning more than $100,000
      during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression
      also reported receiving unemployment benefits.
      The reported benefits may include those received by spouses
      or dependents of people who made high incomes, or benefits
      received earlier in the year before a household member got a
      high-paying job.
      Eliminating the federal share of unemployment benefits for
      millionaires would save $20 million in the next decade, the
      congressional researchers said in their report.

      Prohibiting Benefits

      Congress has expanded unemployment benefits that had been
      paid for by states and lasted 26 weeks. The federal money
      lengthened the maximum period to 99 weeks, though the
      researchers said in practice no state currently offers more than
      79 weeks.
      Coburn introduced legislation in February 2011 to prohibit
      federally funded unemployment benefits for people who had at
      least $1 million in assets in the year before they filed a
      claim. The Senate voted unanimously for his measure, the Ending
      Unemployment Payments to Jobless Millionaires Act of 2011. It
      was later added to another bill, which hasn’t passed the Senate.
      Coburn found that 18 households reporting an adjusted gross
      income that exceeded $10 million received an average
      unemployment benefit of $12,333 in 2009. The average benefit for
      74 households earning between $5 million and $10 million was
      $18,351. The average household making $1 million or more
      received $11,113, or about 37 weeks of unemployment benefits.

      Payroll Taxes

      Unemployment benefits, which averaged about $300 per week
      in 2011, are paid out of accounts funded by payroll taxes and
      administered by states. Like Social Security and Medicare, the
      federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled,
      unemployment insurance has no income limits.
      The Internal Revenue Service reported that 2,840
      millionaire households, or 0.03 percent of tax filers, received
      unemployment benefits in 2008. Another 816,700 beneficiaries
      earned between $100,000 and $1 million in 2008, the report said.
      The House of Representatives last December passed a bill
      that would have taxed jobless benefits at 100 percent for single
      filers with an income of $1 million or married filers earning
      more than $2 million. The provision, part of a jobs bill written
      by Michigan Representative Dave Camp, a Republican who leads the
      House Ways and Means Committee, was dropped before the
      legislation was sent to President Barack Obama for his
      signature.

      Auctioning Airwaves

      Lawmakers voted in February to fund the $30 billion cost of
      extending unemployment benefits by auctioning public television
      airwaves and increasing pension contributions by new federal
      employees. The extension expires at the end of the year.
      During the recovery from the recession, real unemployment,
      including discouraged workers and part-time employees seeking
      full-time jobs, peaked at 18 percent in January 2010. The number
      of American workers who collected unemployment benefits topped
      out at 6.6 million in May 2009, the highest seasonally adjusted
      number in more than 30 years, according to the Labor
      Department’s Employment and Training Administration.
      The average unemployed American is out of work for nearly
      40 weeks, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even
      so, congressional researchers said it’s possible that IRS
      figures understate the number of households that receive
      unemployment insurance because the first $2,400 in benefits
      wasn’t taxed in 2009, although it is now.
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      10-02-2012 12:21 PM #2
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      On the one hand, they paid into the system... on the other hand, they're millionaires... did they really *need* it. Discuss!
      You could also add SS income into the equation. There's no shortage of retired Americans that live a very comfortable life with no $ worries where their monthly SS check is nothing but a golf betting money. Yet mention to them that they should consider "not" taking that income and their blood boils. I get why they shouldn't receive it, I get why they want it....they too paid into the system.

    3. Senior Member beng's Avatar
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      10-02-2012 01:00 PM #3
      Thowing fuel on the fire... if the system was converted to PRA style (personal retirement account), where the money *you* paid in throughout your life went into *your own* account to be used by *you* during your retirement. Does that solve the problem by making the program less "social"?
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      10-02-2012 01:58 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      Thowing fuel on the fire... if the system was converted to PRA style (personal retirement account), where the money *you* paid in throughout your life went into *your own* account to be used by *you* during your retirement. Does that solve the problem by making the program less "social"?
      Does this PRA force you to put xx% of income into the system your entire working career?
      Who administrates these accounts and what do they invest in?

    5. Senior Member beng's Avatar
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      10-02-2012 04:21 PM #5
      All hypothetical, obviously, but if you overlaid the currect SS structure... there would be a "forced" deduction and the government would administer the accounts... though, I would imagine they might use third party asset managers as a way of improving the diversity of investment options. You'd probably have to aggregate options by age-based risk tolerance distributions.
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      10-02-2012 04:38 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      All hypothetical, obviously, but if you overlaid the currect SS structure... there would be a "forced" deduction and the government would administer the accounts... though, I would imagine they might use third party asset managers as a way of improving the diversity of investment options. You'd probably have to aggregate options by age-based risk tolerance distributions.
      I think you're on to something. Build the business case, put together $100K cash for dinner meetings, and I'll have our corp lobbyist walk the halls on CH when Congress returns from "break" after the elections...

    7. Senior Member AZGolf's Avatar
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      10-02-2012 05:02 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      You'd probably have to aggregate options by age-based risk tolerance distributions.
      I'll take it a step further: You can't provide people options or they'll screw it up due to FUD or thinking they can outsmart the market.

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      10-02-2012 10:07 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      Thowing fuel on the fire... if the system was converted to PRA style (personal retirement account), where the money *you* paid in throughout your life went into *your own* account to be used by *you* during your retirement. Does that solve the problem by making the program less "social"?
      No, because the benefits are not proportional to what you contribute. They're progressive so lower income workers get proportionally more Social Security than somebody who maxes it out every year. Social Security has been incredibly successful at ending elderly poverty. If you adopt the beng plan, half the country wouldn't contribute enough in their working life to keep them out of the poverty level.

    9. Member GeoffD's Avatar
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      10-02-2012 10:43 PM #9
      I think this thread is kind of funny. On paper, I'm a millionaire. I was unemployed for 14 1/2 months that included most of 2009. In my life, I've paid well over a million dollars in Federal income tax and my employers have paid for 30+ years of unemployment insurance for me. When I was unemployed, I pulled about $25,000 in benefits out of the system. Sure, I could have dipped into savings to pay my bills for a year but I chose to live about a year on just an unemployment check after I'd spent through my checking account balance. Am I somehow supposed to feel guilty about this?

      One thing about that year unemployed.... I learned that I'd have no problem chopping back my lifestyle to live on my (maxed out) Social Security check for cash flow and still maintain a high quality of life. I'd have to touch savings for big ticket items like replacing a car but all my day-to-day bills can get paid.

      I've run the numbers and worked out that if you have a decent net worth, it doesn't make sense to collect Social Security until age 70. At age 70, the benefit is $38,580. If I retired at age 62, I'd pull $173,376 out of the system by the time I hit age 70. If I live to age 80, I come out way ahead by deferring collecting Social Security. Basically, I'm planning on using Social Security as a hedge for if I get unlucky and outlive my savings.

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      10-03-2012 10:02 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
      No, because the benefits are not proportional to what you contribute. They're progressive so lower income workers get proportionally more Social Security than somebody who maxes it out every year. Social Security has been incredibly successful at ending elderly poverty. If you adopt the beng plan, half the country wouldn't contribute enough in their working life to keep them out of the poverty level.
      Uh no! The beng plan! I knew someone would point out the major shortfall of the proposal. ...screw poor old people though. They should just die and decrease the surplus population
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    11. Senior Member beng's Avatar
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      10-03-2012 10:07 AM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
      I think this thread is kind of funny. On paper, I'm a millionaire. I was unemployed for 14 1/2 months that included most of 2009. In my life, I've paid well over a million dollars in Federal income tax and my employers have paid for 30+ years of unemployment insurance for me. When I was unemployed, I pulled about $25,000 in benefits out of the system. Sure, I could have dipped into savings to pay my bills for a year but I chose to live about a year on just an unemployment check after I'd spent through my checking account balance. Am I somehow supposed to feel guilty about this?

      One thing about that year unemployed.... I learned that I'd have no problem chopping back my lifestyle to live on my (maxed out) Social Security check for cash flow and still maintain a high quality of life. I'd have to touch savings for big ticket items like replacing a car but all my day-to-day bills can get paid.

      I've run the numbers and worked out that if you have a decent net worth, it doesn't make sense to collect Social Security until age 70. At age 70, the benefit is $38,580. If I retired at age 62, I'd pull $173,376 out of the system by the time I hit age 70. If I live to age 80, I come out way ahead by deferring collecting Social Security. Basically, I'm planning on using Social Security as a hedge for if I get unlucky and outlive my savings.
      As is typical of inflammatory jounalism... the author basically leaves out all of the important details that you'ev added above. Its not as black and white as saying... they're millionaires! Lets be outraged!

      How do you keep from "wasting" dollars in a social program like this? Are high earners excluded from having to pay unemployment insurance and this disqualified from benefits when unemployed?
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      10-03-2012 10:34 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
      If you adopt the beng plan, half the country wouldn't contribute enough in their working life to keep them out of the poverty level.
      That's why I asked "Does this PRA force you to put xx% of income into the system your entire working career?" The beng plan could force everyone to contribute (ex.) 12% right off the top.
      Or IMO you could choose to opt out and get zero on the backend.

      In 10-20 years we will suffer a welfare epidemic because people don't have pensions and didn't save enough into their personal retirement plans. We need a big solution!

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      10-03-2012 10:58 AM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by tbvvw View Post
      That's why I asked "Does this PRA force you to put xx% of income into the system your entire working career?" The beng plan could force everyone to contribute (ex.) 12% right off the top.
      Or IMO you could choose to opt out and get zero on the backend.

      In 10-20 years we will suffer a welfare epidemic because people don't have pensions and didn't save enough into their personal retirement plans. We need a big solution!
      Geoffs mentioning that there is a "redistribution" of the contributions that SS receives so that the benefits are cut up evenly among retirees, even though some may have paid in a lot more and some may have paid in a lot less (% of income generally being somewhat equal). If you went the PRA route, the contributions made in by the lower paid folks would probably not be sufficient to sustain them in retirement (especially considering where rates are right now). So when people retired, you'd have a new class system for teh elderly. Those who had sufficient contributions to their PRA's throughout their lives, and those who must participate in a mandatory work program called Soylent Green. The mechanics of my plan are really starting to come together btw.
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      10-03-2012 01:34 PM #14
      I collected unemployment when a company folded. It's my money after all.

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      10-03-2012 02:56 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by tbvvw View Post
      That's why I asked "Does this PRA force you to put xx% of income into the system your entire working career?" The beng plan could force everyone to contribute (ex.) 12% right off the top.
      Or IMO you could choose to opt out and get zero on the backend.

      In 10-20 years we will suffer a welfare epidemic because people don't have pensions and didn't save enough into their personal retirement plans. We need a big solution!
      Some facts:
      * In 20 years and then on off to infinity, there will be 1 retiree for every 3 workers.

      * With middle class erosion, half the country is now living paycheck to paycheck with no savings. The trend is for the erosion to get worse, not better. There is little the government can do to stem income stratification in a global economy. The bottom half simply will never have the job skills to make it out of the working poor.

      Today, retirees have Social Security which is sort of based on what they have contributed. For the working poor who haven't contributed enough to keep them above the poverty level, there is also SSI (welfare for old people). If you are part of the working poor living paycheck to paycheck, there is no spare money to save for retirement. The Social Security that is pulled out of your pay check comes right back to you as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

      There is no magic fix for this other than increasing the retirement age and progressively taxing rich people who have all the money to fund retirement programs. I expect that the final outcome will be that retirement/medicare get pushed up to age 70 with no out for early retirement unless you are disabled. The cap on Social Security will be removed. They will start charging Social Security on unearned income and capital gains to whack the rich people further. With the trend towards income stratification, it's the only way to fund the program. It's not like you can start taxing poor people. They don't have any money.

      I'd also expect to see more tightening of age discrimination employment law. It will be increasingly more difficult for employers to cast their 60+ year-olds aside for cheaper younger workers. I fully expect that most people will need to work until age 70 and that includes government workers, teachers, police/fire who today get ridiculous early retirement deals that the rest of us have to pay for.

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      10-03-2012 03:12 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      How do you keep from "wasting" dollars in a social program like this? Are high earners excluded from having to pay unemployment insurance and this disqualified from benefits when unemployed?
      I'm just barely top-5%. I pay about $40,000 in Federal income tax every year. I was unemployed 4 years ago and collected $25,000 in benefits. In the following 3 years counting this 2012 tax year, I will have paid $120,000 in Federal income taxes and I've been paying roughly that much or more, inflation adjusted, for a couple of decades with a couple of extremely good years with stock options for companies that got sold where I had enormous tax bills. In my 30+ year work career, my employers paid into the unemployment insurance pool and I never collected a dime. In the grand scheme of things, me pulling $25K out of the system as a 5%er who had some job down time simply doesn't matter. I pay in far more than I could ever pull back out. I would imagine that the same is true of any high net worth person who went unemployed for a while.

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      10-03-2012 04:15 PM #17
      I see your point... the benefit of having your wages in the pool far outweighs the risk that at some point you may draw from the system.
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    18. 10-04-2012 12:48 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Cooper View Post
      I collected unemployment when a company folded. It's my money after all.
      But it isn't. You paid a premium to a fund to buy insurance should the conditions be met that you lose employment through no fault of your own. Once you've paid the premium its no longer your money. If you never qualify by staying employed you never see that money again, just like any other insurance. Not sure why that is confusing to people.

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      10-04-2012 08:48 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by a_riot View Post
      But it isn't. You paid a premium to a fund to buy insurance should the conditions be met that you lose employment through no fault of your own. Once you've paid the premium its no longer your money. If you never qualify by staying employed you never see that money again, just like any other insurance. Not sure why that is confusing to people.
      So it should be "It's my insurance after all". Cooper's point is about the morality/ethics of collecting on unemployment insurance if you happen to have a big pile o' money kicking around.

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      10-04-2012 02:49 PM #20
      here is the line that i think the discussion seems to have missed, IMO.

      2,400 households with annual incomes of $1 million or more

      doesn't seem to me that they are talking about just anyone that may happen to have $1M saved up in assets, retirement, etc... 'paper millionaire'

      i read this as households who typically have an ANNUAL income of $1M+...
      meaning these houses were making over a million a year and still in 2009 someone was unemployed and taking the checks.

      at that point adding to $38k/yr to the typical $1M/yr... is taking that SS check really needed?

      if i made a million this year you can be damn sure i am going to have most of that $$ next year still. and even more so if my normal income is a million per year every year or many years in a line.

      these aren't people who happen to have a million. these are people who will truly should have multiples of millions of dollars sitting around. not sure they really need to pull $ from the system while sitting in their Hampton's mansion.
      Last edited by dunhamjr; 10-04-2012 at 05:42 PM.
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    21. 10-04-2012 03:56 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by a_riot View Post
      But it isn't. You paid a premium to a fund to buy insurance should the conditions be met that you lose employment through no fault of your own. Once you've paid the premium its no longer your money. If you never qualify by staying employed you never see that money again, just like any other insurance. Not sure why that is confusing to people.
      He didn't, but his employer had contributed unemployment insurance (UI) on his behalf and other employees.

      A company I used to work for saw its state unemployment contribute rate from 3% to 9% due to high turnover in the year before and unemployment benefits paid out by the state.

      Employers are now contributing even more (by way of surcharges) because many states are defaulting on federal unemployment loans, even if they've had no unemployment claims against their account.

      At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if someone makes $1m a year, or $10,000 a year, they are all eligible for unemployment assuming qualifications are met.
      Last edited by joe97; 10-04-2012 at 03:59 PM.

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      10-04-2012 04:35 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by joe97 View Post
      At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if someone makes $1m a year, or $10,000 a year, they are all eligible for unemployment assuming qualifications are met.
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      10-04-2012 05:00 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by dunhamjr View Post
      here is the line that i the discussion seems to have missed, IMO.

      2,400 households with annual incomes of $1 million or more
      Reading comprehension > me

      I need a raise

    24. 10-04-2012 10:41 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
      So it should be "It's my insurance after all". Cooper's point is about the morality/ethics of collecting on unemployment insurance if you happen to have a big pile o' money kicking around.
      I don't see any morality issue with it. Should rich people also pay auto insurance yet not receive payment if in an accident? The only ethical issue I see is if someone is collecting welfare when they have a pile of money which I guess happens quite often. But if you qualify for UI benefits you should receive them.

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      10-05-2012 02:39 AM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by beng View Post
      Thowing fuel on the fire... if the system was converted to PRA style (personal retirement account), where the money *you* paid in throughout your life went into *your own* account to be used by *you* during your retirement. Does that solve the problem by making the program less "social"?
      However, there would be a one-time conversion cost in the trillions of dollars converting the Social Security promises to a true defined-contribution (or defined-benefit) pension plan.

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