Understanding the Relationship Between Social Security Disability Benefits & Unemployment Benefits

Since the recession began in 2008, the number of applications for Social Security disability benefits has soared. Two different recent studies have confirmed that one of the causes of this raise in disability claims (along with the aging workforce) is that many jobless workers are turning to Social Security disability benefits when their unemployment benefits come to an end.


Asked about this issue, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration (SSA) Stephen Gross explained that the relationship between the economy, unemployment benefits, and Social Security benefits: when the economy is good, it is easier for the impaired to find work, and when the economy is weak, those with health conditions may feel pressure to turn to Social Security when they can’t find work.


What the Social Security Administration thinks


The Social Security Administration’s Chief Administrative Law Judge Frank Cristaudo has made several statements about disability benefits applicants who are collecting unemployment benefits. While he said that administrative law judges will take the unemployment benefits as a factor when deciding the case, they understand that disability benefits often take many months or even years to acquire and that a claimant should not be forced to forego unemployment support while waiting for a decision.


What the legal community thinks


Because administrative law judges often look down upon claimants that are collecting unemployment while applying for benefits (despite what the SSA may state officially), disability attorneys rarely recommend that their clients collect unemployment benefits during the SSDI or SSI process. However, some recognize that there are some situations in which pursing both isn’t conflicting, such as an older or unskilled worker with a disability who is collecting unemployment while seeking a sedentary position.  At the very least a Social Security disability benefits claimant should expect to have to explain to a judge why they are collecting unemployment and actively seeking a job despite their disability.


Texas Social Security disability attorneys


At Morgan & Weisbrod, we understand that it is sometimes financially necessary to collect unemployment benefits while seeking disability benefits – or that doing so might make sense in your unique situation. If you have questions about your disability claim, or if you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, call our Dallas Social Security disability lawyers today to set up a free appointment: 800-800-6353.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law