Some laid-off California state employees are double dipping

Across California, retired state and local government workers are drawing taxpayer-funded unemployment benefits on top of their pensions.

These are workers who voluntarily retired, went back to work part time in their old jobs — collecting both a government pension and a government paycheck — then lost that second job during government budget cuts. Under state law, many of those pensioners now qualify for unemployment benefits.

In Sacramento County, 53 former sheriff's deputies collected more than $300,000 in unemployment benefits from 2009 through March of this year. Those former deputies also got a pension during that time.

About a dozen Placer County government retirees earned almost $60,000 in unemployment benefits on top of their pensions between 2007 and 2009. Four Alameda County government retirees collected $7,400 for unemployment benefits in the first six months of 2010.

And in Roseville, two retirees are drawing unemployment checks that could reach $450 a week on top of their pensions. Roseville officials are appealing the claims, but the checks will keep rolling until an appeals board rules.

The money to pay for the unemployment benefits comes from the coffers of local governments, which are on the hook for any unemployment claims their laid-off workers file.

This form of "double dipping" — collecting unemployment benefits for leaving essentially the same job you retired from years before — is legal under state and federal law.

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