Can I receive unemployment benefits while applying for or receiving Social Security disability benefits?

Tampa Frontage Road Social Security OfficeIn most cases, it is not advisable for a claimant applying for Social Security disability benefits to be receiving unemployment benefits.

The Social Security Administration’s official position is that receiving unemployment benefits does not preclude being approved for disability benefits. However, the fact that a claimant is receiving unemployment benefits is one factor that can be weighed by the SSA in making a determination regarding disability benefits, and it is likely to count against the claimant. This is because, when one collects unemployment benefits, one claims to be actively seeking work, and willing and able to accept work if it is offered, but in applying for disability benefits, one claims to be unable to work due to a disability. An SSA decision maker could take the fact that a claimant is receiving unemployment benefits as evidence that the claimant is not really unable to work.

There are certain situations in which an individual may legitimately receive unemployment benefits and disability benefits at the same time, for example through the Ticket to Work Program. The program allows people who are already receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits but believe they may be able to return to work, to test their ability to work for up to nine months, without losing their SSDI benefits. Under the program, SSDI benefits are not affected during the nine month period, regardless of how much the person earns. If a participant in the program works for six months and then is laid off, he or she may be entitled to unemployment benefits while still being eligible for disability benefits.

And, as stated above, even in other situations, receiving unemployment benefits does not necessarily mean that one cannot successfully apply for Social Security disability benefits. To find out how this issue may affect your individual case, contact a Social Security disability attorney.

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