Disability and Unemployment: What You Need to Know

Can you collect unemployment while on social security disability? Here’s what you need to know before applying for disability and unemployment.

Man holding a need work sign

This guide explores the differences between the two governmental benefits programs: disability and unemployment. 

It is advisable to seek out an experienced attorney in this area. The attorneys at Evans Disability have years of disability experience. They will help you through the requirements of each program to ensure you are finding the best fit for your circumstance. 

Disability vs Unemployment: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between disability and unemployment is each program’s purpose for potential applicants or claimants. 

Unemployment benefits are for people who are willing and able to work but cannot find work due to no fault of their own. For example, they did not quit due to a mental or physical disability. 

Disability benefits are for people who can not work due to physical or mental symptoms of their disability or impairment. These conditions must be medically documented. 

What Are Disability Benefits?

Two Social Security Disability programs assist people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. 

Disability benefits are for those who meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. A disability is a medically determinable mental and physical impairment expected to last 12 months or beyond. As a result of the disability, people cannot work with their limitations.

What Are Unemployment Benefits?

The goal of unemployment benefits is to assist people who have lost their job through no fault of their own. Those receiving unemployment benefits must be willing and able to work. 

There are also requirements. For example, you must actively apply for new work opportunities. In addition, unemployment benefits are given only for a selected period via your state, depending on how long you were employed before.

Can You Collect Unemployment While on Social Security Disability?

When you collect Social Security Disability benefits, you are stating you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment that does not allow you to have the residual functional capacity or ability to work. 

When you apply for unemployment, you are ready and able to work and that you lost your job through no fault of your own. 

These two programs inherently conflict with each other. It would be unlikely that you would be able to collect unemployment while on Social Security Disability without “double-dipping.” 

Also Read: The SSDI Trial Work Period Explained: What It Is and How It Works

Can You Collect Unemployment After Disability Runs Out?

You can become eligible for disability benefits after your unemployment benefits run out. 

The only way that legally this is allowed in specific, individual circumstances is if you were to “recover” enough from your disability to become gainfully employed, meaning a full-time job or the equivalent hours. However, this process is contingent on very individual circumstances, and there are many guidelines with the dates of applying. 

It can save you time and energy to consult with a disability benefits attorney for the unique circumstances above. Evans Disability can ensure you complete the correct applications and meet deadlines.

Can I Apply for Unemployment if I Am on Disability?

While there is no automatic alert that pops up if you try to file for unemployment while on disability, it is not an advisable idea. This goes back to the concept that while on disability, you essentially say “my mental or physical health” does not allow me to work a job. 

When you apply for an unemployment benefit or program, you are essentially stating via your application that you are “ready, willing, and able” to find a job in the national economy workforce if given the opportunity and that you are actively applying and interviewing. 

Does Social Security Affect Unemployment?

Yes, your Social Security benefits will be reduced (minus select funds) dollar-for-dollar if you receive any unemployment benefits. 

As part of receiving Social Security benefits, you agree to report all income to the Social Security Administration if you receive Social Security Insurance funds and in other specific circumstances. 

However, if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance, your unemployment benefits will likely be affected. It is always best to seek out an attorney if you have questions about this specifically.

Also, regardless of the specifics of reducing your Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will consider during decision making or a hearing on your behalf that you are “ready, willing, and able” to work by receiving unemployment benefits.

Do You Have to Report Social Security to Unemployment?

Yes, to receive any government or state benefits funds, you must report any income you received. 

If you do not report your funds, you could be considered “double-dipping” and may have to pay back a select part of your funds or criminal investigated for a fraud charge.

What Pays More: Disability or Unemployment?

Disability payments are generally around $1,200 per month and can be more or less depending on your circumstances like any income you are earning, the state you reside in, etc. 

Also, if you are found “double-dipping,” the pay for your Social Security benefits will be severely reduced by the amount of your unemployment benefits. You may then also become responsible for paying back the “overpayment.”

Also Read: Social Security Disability Benefits Pay Chart 2022

Disability and Unemployment: Consider These Risks of Double-Dipping

  • There is a high risk that the Social Security or Unemployment administration programs will use your enrollment in both programs against your case. When you sign for your unemployment benefits, you state you are ready and willing to work a job. However, when you sign up for disability benefits, you say that you can not work. This is considered “double-dipping,” and the agency can deny your claim(s). When applying for either benefit, you want to give each respective agency minimal reasons to delay or deny your application.
  • Sometimes, both agencies will give you both benefits without knowing the other’s decision to provide you with benefits. If either agency finds out, you may be legally liable to pay the amount of the benefit back to the program. 
  • On a more serious note, double-dipping or purposefully misleading governmental or state programs may lead to a criminal fraud charge which could require jail time! 

It is best to check with a knowledgeable Social Security attorney. Contact Evans Disability to ensure you apply for benefits correctly and avoid potential risks.

Best Practices When Applying for Disability and Unemployment

  • For both governmental programs, you will need to fill out a long and cumbersome application or claim following their specific instructions. It is important to follow all instructions when filling out your application and fill it out honestly. There are a lot of complex elements to filling out either application. It may be in your best interest to seek out attorney representation. 
  • It is important to remain honest in any application for benefits. Particularly for Social Security benefits. There may be an Administrative Law Hearing that you will have to attend. Suppose the Administrative Law Judge knows or has notice that you are on unemployment while seeking Social Security benefits. In that case, they will take into account that you are receiving benefits because you can not find work. This is important to realize because during an Administrative Law Hearing, they are looking for any reason to deny you on the basis that you can work, and your disability does not impede your ability to perform substantial gainful activity- or work.
  • It may be advisable, depending on your particular circumstances, to wait until your unemployment benefits run their course while following the job searching guidelines.

How Evans Disability Can Help You Get the Benefits You Deserve

The highly qualified and knowledgeable attorneys at Evans Disability will help you get the benefits you deserve by assisting your application from initial application to representation at a hearing. 

If you are struggling with a disability and don’t know where to start, we encourage you to call us at 855-503-0101.

Our devoted team will help you every step of the way through the disability benefits application process. 

Additionally, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit your local office to apply for disability benefits.