Can A Social Security Disability Claimant Apply For Disability Benefits While Receiving Unemployment?

Disability Attorney Near MeAn individual can apply for Social Security Disability benefits while receiving unemployment.  But, the receipt of unemployment benefits may impact the Social Security Disability claim, depending upon the facts.  There is nothing in the law or Social Security regulations that directly precludes a claim for Social Security Disability that overlaps with receipt of unemployment benefits.  But, the receipt of unemployment benefits during a period of time for which a claimant is requesting disability benefits, can be used as a fact against the claimant, since the claimant may have told the state that the claimant is ‘ready, willing and able’ to work.  However, the extent to which the receipt of unemployment benefits negatively impacts a Social Security Disability claim depends in part on the claimant’s age and past work.  Once a claimant reaches age brackets at age 50 and 55, the claimant may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits upon a showing of inability to perform past work, but may only need to show the state that the claimant is ‘ready, willing and able’ to perform other less strenuous or less skilled work.  This evidence may in part be determined by an evaluation of the types of jobs that the claimant is applying for in order to qualify for the unemployment benefits.  Furthermore, an individual in these age brackets or even below these age brackets may be able to work part-time during the period of time which the claimant is claiming disability, whereas the ability to work part-time may also satisfy the ‘ready, willing and able’ requirement for unemployment benefits.  

Whether the unemployment benefits will impact the claim has become more complicated during the pandemic, during which many individuals have received pandemic (CARES Act) unemployment.  It is possible that individuals are qualifying for pandemic unemployment without certifying that they are ‘ready, willing and able’ to work.  Claimants should keep records, print-outs, screen-prints and notes regarding recertifications, if they are in fact not required to make such a statement.

It is important to note that after a favorable Social Security Disability finding, while unemployment benefits are not subtractable from Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI)  benefits, unemployment benefits will be subtracted from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  This issue only impacts individuals who will be eligible to receive SSI in addition to SSDI, or as an alternative to SSI.

Overall, it is often advisable to proceed with a Social Security Disability claim while an individual is receiving unemployment benefits.  Otherwise, waiting to file a claim may cause a loss of past due Social Security Disability benefits and may delay the ultimate receipt of Social Security Disability benefits.  It is advisable that a potential claimant discuss these issues with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law.