A Social Security Attorney On Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits Part II | Social Security Attorney

A Few More Thoughts On Unemployment

If you are receiving unemployment compensation benefits, can you still receive Social Security disability benefits? The answer to this question is quite complex, and if you are receiving unemployment you should consult a Social Security attorney with our office. You can receive benefits from both programs, but it can be tricky.  As a general rule, our disability attorneys strongly discourage applying for unemployment benefits while applying for disability benefits.

The problem is that you are saying two different things when you apply for both Social Security disability and unemployment compensation benefits. You are telling one government program that you are able and willing to work and the other that you are so handicapped either mentally or physically that you can no longer work. So while Social Security guidelines to not provide a bright line prohibition against granting disability benefits to someone on unemployment, most judges will see it as a question of credibility and it can be very damaging to your case—as every disability attorney will tell you, credibility is everything when it comes to applying for Social Security disability.

older-coupleThe first thing to consider is your onset date. If you claim that you are disabled the date you were laid off from work, you must also consider that this is probably also the date you started telling the unemployment compensation people that you are ready and willing to work.  You should consult with your attorney about moving the onset date forward to avoid this conflict. However, before you do this you should understand that the judges that will be determining the outcome of your case have very different views about the people who receive unemployment compensation benefits during the time that they are also claiming to be disabled. If possible, you should try to find out what your judge’s view on the matter is, which is only possible if you are using a local Social Security attorney who knows the local judges.

Also keep in mind that there are some cases where there is no conflict and moving your onset date is unnecessary. This kind of case usually occurs with claimants can not do their past relevant work and legitimately receive unemployment compensation because they are willing to try something new. This will usually occur for claimants fifty years old or older who can also be found disabled using rules from the Medical-Vocational guidelines.  However, some states claim that a limitation to sedentary work does not qualify a claimant for unemployment compensation benefits because there is a requirement that the claimant be capable of performing more jobs than just sedentary ones.

Your attorney might also argue that you would have attempted to work if you found a job during the time you were receiving unemployment compensations benefits, but you would not have been able to sustain the work. This makes the unemployment compensation benefits legitimate but also provides a basis for the disability claim. If you are unsure whether or not your unemployment compensation benefits are going to be a problem, please contact one of our Social Security attorneys.

As mentioned earlier, administrative law judges vary in their views. There is no regulation or ruling that says you cannot receive unemployment benefits and still get Social Security benefits. However, some judges might think of this as double dipping and will not find you disabled during the time that you received unemployment compensation. This could be the case even if you present a legitimate claim that you can

receive both benefits. The judge may ask you to move the onset date to when you last received unemployment compensation benefits, but he may also expect you to move the onset date based on your medical condition worsening and not based on when your benefits stopped. Both could mean a significant loss of back benefits. For other judges, it isn’t a big deal that you are receiving benefits from both programs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that an application for unemployment benefits will be considered together with all of your other medical evidence. Lots of the time, underlying circumstances will be more important than the fact that you applied for unemployment benefits.  If you are clearly severely disabled and have significant objective evidence of your disability, a judge may decide to  overlook your unemployment compensation.

For help with your disability claim, you can contact one of our Social Security attorneys. They can help you correctly place your onset date and put together the best possible case.   For a few more thoughts on unemployment benefits and applying for disability, see Unemployment And Disability.

Originally posted 2015-02-02 16:50:05.