Understanding the Relationship Between Social Security Disability Benefits & Unemployment Benefits

In 2010, the Social Security Administration’s Chief Administrative Law Judge Frank Cristaudo sent a written memo to all Social Security administrative law judges reminding them that an applicant for Social Security disability benefits is not automatically disqualified because that applicant receives unemployment benefits. While he said that administrative law judges will take the unemployment benefits as a factor when deciding the case, they should 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.

Competing Purposes of Unemployment Benefits and Social Security Disability

While the official policy of the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be that you can collect unemployment benefits and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to remember how you qualify for each type of benefit. When you apply for disability benefits, you are stating that you have a health condition that will prevent you from working for at least 12 months. When you collect unemployment benefits, you are stating that you are available for work, capable of holding a job, and actively seeking employment.

For this reason, it is not always advisable for a Social Security disability applicant to collect unemployment benefits while actively seeking Social Security disability benefits. Of course, there are exceptions and in some cases you may be able to do both without hurting your claim for Social Security disability benefits.

As with any difficult decision about Social Security disability, it is important to speak with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer before making any decisions. An attorney can explain your rights to you, and can explain to a judge, if necessary, why you are collecting unemployment and actively seeking a job despite your disability.

Make Sure Your Rights Are Protected

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, please call our Dallas Social Security disability lawyers today to set up a meeting at your earliest convenience.

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