How Unemployment Benefits Affect Disability Benefits

If you can no longer find gainful employment due to a disability, you may be able to secure Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If you’re receiving unemployment benefits, though, you could be left wondering how one might affect the other. Many question if they can even file for both. Fortunately, you may be able to successfully apply for SSD benefits even while collecting unemployment, but there are a few things you should know first.


There are many factors that will dictate whether you are granted Social Security Disability benefits while receiving unemployment payments. These factors could range from whether you can perform minimal work to the judge who’s overseeing your case. Looking at the legal aspect of it, though, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has no rules saying you can’t receive SSD benefits while getting unemployment.

Of course, any Social Security Disability attorney can explain that this process is more difficult than others. This is because it may appear as if you’re providing conflicting information by filing for both. Those receiving unemployment, for instance, are stating that they are looking for work. By filing for disability benefits, though, you’re essentially saying that you cannot work.

As it turns out, not everything is in black and white when it comes to Social Security Disability and unemployment. Certain nuances to the rules mean you could legitimately receive benefits without contradictory claims.


Whether you’re suffering from a mental or physical disability, you may very well qualify for SSD benefits. The real question is whether you will receive them while being paid unemployment compensation. In addition to this being dependent on the judge you see, the state that you live in could also affect the outcome.

In many states, for instance, it’s not required that you seek a full-time job in order to receive unemployment benefits. And since you aren’t barred from working a minimal amount of time every week while on disability, there’s no conflict in applying for Social Security benefits at the same time. Individuals who receive a medical-vocational allowance can also get disability payments while collecting unemployment.

No two cases are exactly alike, so it would be in your best interest to seek out a Social Security Disability attorney. At Levine Benjamin, we can look at your case and figure out what needs to be done to ensure the best chance at receiving SSD benefits.


While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted Social Security Disability benefits while receiving unemployment, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of success. First, collect all of the medical documents related to your mental or physical disability. These are essential to proving that you’re legitimately disabled and not simply trying to game the system.

It’s also essential that you don’t attempt work that could worsen your condition. Although some states do require you to seek full-time employment while receiving unemployment benefits, you cannot risk further injury. Not only could you hurt yourself, but the SSA may look at your file and believe holding such a job meant your disability wasn’t serious.

Maybe the best piece of advice for receiving disability benefits, though, is to never give up. The majority of individuals currently receiving disability benefits were denied during their initial application. This can easily happen to you if a judge sees that you’re receiving unemployment benefits and immediately assumes you’re capable of working.


Through persistence, and often with the help of a Social Security Disability attorney, many of those who are initially denied end up being granted benefits. Getting disability benefits while receiving unemployment might not be the easiest road to take, but at Levine Benjamin, we’re focused on helping you down that road. Call us today for a free consultation.


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