Scroll Top

Social Security Disability and Unemployment Benefits

Can You Collect Unemployment and Social Security?

In short, yes you can receive both unemployment and social security disability benefits. Due to the complicated nature of most legal issues dealing with compensation through government funds, this is something that is going to differ on a case-by-case basis. The most common issue we see is claimants trying to receive unemployment while they are waiting for their SSDI claim to be processed, which is something that can take months or even years. 


Collecting both benefits has become more common during the COVID-19 pandemic but it is still fairly rare. For more information regarding your specific case, you should contact a notable disability lawyer at Barkan Meizlish LLP. 

What is Unemployment?

Unemployment benefits, or unemployment insurance, is in place to reward those who are currently without work but actively searching for it. Unemployment benefits will grant you a predetermined percentage of your most recent income as a way to hold you over while you search for a new job. More information on how to file for unemployment can be found here.

What Is SSDI?

SSDI is an insurance benefit that people pay into and can make a claim for when they become disabled and no longer have the ability to work. It can take months or years for a claim to be approved which is why people often seek unemployment benefits at the same time. Filing for SSDI can be a lengthy and complex process and should never be faced alone. The disability lawyers at Barkan Meizlish LLP have handled countless Social Security Disability cases and can help you get the benefits that you have already paid for.


Can You Apply for Disability While on Unemployment?

The first thing you need to understand when trying to decide on your plan of action is that at their core intention, SSDI and unemployment benefits directly contradict each other. When filing for SSDI you are stating that you can no longer work in any capacity. Contrarily, if you are collecting unemployment benefits then you are admitting that you are both willing and able to perform work. Ensuring that the qualifications are met for both is best done through the eyes of a professional disability lawyer.


You can apply for disability while collecting unemployment but it might not be the best decision. While the SSA has said that collecting unemployment does not immediately disqualify you from collecting disability, it could greatly reduce the chances of you getting approved. 


This is ultimately a gamble and is going to entirely depend on the claims examiner reviewing your case. Some claims examiners are lenient and will still approve your SSDI claim while you are collecting unemployment. This comes from their understanding that SSDI claims take a while and that you need income in the interim. On the flip side, your claims examiner might only see the blatantly contradicting nature of the two benefits and deny your disability claim on the spot.


To prevent this from happening we recommend you wait until your unemployment benefits have run out or are nearing the end before filing your disability claim. This makes everything look good on paper and will force the claims examiner to review your claim based on your physical state alone and not the language used to describe the individual benefits. Always be upfront when filing for unemployment or SSDI benefits as you could face criminal charges and be ordered to pay back the money if caught.


In an effort to cut spending, the government is actively trying to prevent people from collecting both benefits at the same time. But like any other ruling, there are some legitimate and rare exceptions. One of the most common situations is when an individual is collecting unemployment and then faces a debilitating injury. They could file before their unemployment benefits stopped and still have a good chance at receiving SSDI as well.


This is far from the only qualifying circumstance but it is one of the most common. There are other unique situations that qualify individuals to receive both benefits. If you aren’t sure what route to take, contact the highly trained disability lawyers at Barkan Meizlish LLP. We have won countless cases since 1957 and have the case results to back it up.

Related Post

Clear Filters
Can I Fight Back Against an Administrative Law Judge’s Decision on my SSDI Claim?
What is the Onset Date for Social Security Disability Insurance?