Can You File For Disability While Receiving Unemployment?

While Social Security does not prohibit you from receiving unemployment when filing for disability, there can be problems. If you are receiving unemployment benefits and making a claim for Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, you are making two inconsistent statements:

1. When you file for unemployment benefits you are saying that you are able to work but you cannot find a job.

2. When you file for Social Security Disability or SSI, you are saying that you are unable to perform any substantial work activity.

The problem and inconsistency is obvious. You are claiming to be both able and unable to work at the same time. While Social Security does permit you to receive unemployment benefits and while filing for disability benefits, it is one of the factors an administrative law judge can consider along with other factors when they make a decision on your disability case.

Some attorneys and representatives have suggested that receiving unemployment benefits while claiming disability may make you less likely to win your disability case. To that end, there are attorneys and representatives who recommend that their clients amend their alleged onset date to a date after their unemployment benefits end.

You should also consider the effect that filing for Social Security Disability or SSI can have on your unemployment benefits. As I stated above, Social Security permits you to receive unemployment benefits while filing for or receiving disability benefits. However, that may not be the case with the Employment Security Commission.

You are required to notify the Employment Security Commission if you apply for disability benefits of any kind. If you do not notify them, you may have to repay all of the unemployment benefits you have received since applying for disability or you may even have legal problems if they find out. On the other hand, if you do notify them that you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits, they may terminate your unemployment immediately. It is a double edge sword for most disability applicants who are receiving unemployment benefits while disabled, because they need the unemployment benefits to pay their financial obligations while waiting for a disability decision.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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