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The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not award benefits based on your inability to find work in your area. They spell out this point in Section 404.1566(c) of the Code of Federal Regulations:

We will determine that you are not disabled if your residual functional capacity and vocational abilities make it possible for you to do work which exists in the national economy, but you remain unemployed because of—

  • Your inability to get work.
  • Lack of work in your local area.
  • The hiring practices of employers.
  • Technological changes in the industry in which you have worked.
  • Cyclical economic conditions.
  • No job openings for you.
  • You would not actually be hired to do work you could otherwise do.
  • You do not wish to do a particular type of work.

They couldn’t make the point any clearer: disability benefits have nothing to do with the economy or the job situation in your area. Instead, Social Security disability benefits have everything to do with your capacity to work. Accordingly, when you apply for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to focus on your actual disability rather than on your inability to find a job that’s right for you or the poor economy.

A Look Back at the Great Recession

Several studies have correlated the 2008 recession and jobless rate with the rising number of Social Security disability claims. In December 2011, a White House report found that ten percent of jobless workers age 50 to 65 with access to less than $5,000 in savings were likely to file for disability benefits when their unemployment benefits expired. At the same time, only one percent sought benefits when they had 50 weeks of unemployed benefits left.

Unemployment Benefits Could Hurt Your Social Security Claim

In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you need to be actively seeking work. In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits you need to be unable to work. These benefit systems are often at odds with each other and often cause confusion.

If you are currently unemployed and you think that you might be eligible for Social Security disability, we encourage you to take action now to protect your rights. Find out more by calling us directly at 800-800-6353 or starting a live chat with us today.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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