Navigating Disability Benefits and Unemployment

Can a person receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and unemployment benefits at the same time? The answer is yes, but it’s a complex process that requires careful navigation. Here’s what you need to know about receiving disability benefits and unemployment.

Ability to Work Is a Key Factor in SSDI and Unemployment Eligibility

When applying for unemployment, you must show that you lost your job through no fault of your own and are looking for a new job. In addition, you must attest that you are able to work. On the other hand, when applying for SSDI, you must prove that you are unable to work due to your condition. So, applying for unemployment may disqualify your chance at approval for disability benefits. However, it’s important to note that while the Social Security Administration (SSA) technically allows those on unemployment to apply for disability benefits, it ultimately depends on the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) deciding on your case.

For example, if you work part-time while receiving SSDI benefits and then lose your job, you may be entitled to unemployment as you collect disability and search for new part-time work. You also must not hit the income cap of $1,550 per month (or $2,590 for those who are blind).

Explaining Unemployment While Seeking Benefits

If the judge overseeing your disability case inquires about the jobs you applied for while receiving unemployment benefits, you could have a compelling argument that there was no conflict between the two benefit streams in your specific circumstances. Here are some examples of explanations that have proven successful:

  • You focused your job search on positions that were compatible with your physical or mental limitations, such as roles that didn’t involve heavy physical labor, fast-paced environments, or high-stress interactions with the public.
  • Your job applications predominantly targeted part-time positions, reflecting your need for a reduced work schedule due to your disability.
  • You sought employment opportunities where you could work with accommodations for your disability, such as specialized equipment or assistance from an aide. Although these accommodations might not be feasible for most employers due to cost considerations, pursuing such roles demonstrates your willingness and ability to engage in suitable work.
  • If you’re 55 or older and restricted to light work, your job search is specifically focused on light-duty roles. Under a special “grid rule” applicable to older applicants limited to light work, you could still qualify for disability benefits. However, the judge may consider factors such as your transferable job skills, recent training, or ability to perform your previous job.
  • Similarly, your job applications target sit-down roles if you’re 50 or older and limited to sedentary work. Again, a “grid rule” may support your disability claim, provided you meet specific criteria. However, it’s important to note that some states may not grant unemployment benefits to individuals restricted to sedentary work, as such roles may not be readily available in a significant portion of job markets.

These examples illustrate how tailoring your job search to align with your abilities and limitations can help your case for receiving both unemployment and disability benefits concurrently.

Seeking Unemployment and Disability Benefits? Speak With Our SSD Lawyers for Free

Making a case for unemployment and disability benefits simultaneously can be tricky and can often jeopardize your chances of receiving one or the other. For your best chance at approval for both benefits, don’t go it alone. Instead, consult with a disability lawyer well-versed in unemployment and how it impacts disability. Before you file a claim, speak with the experienced Social Security Disability attorneys at Kerr Robichaux & Carroll first for free.

Contact us today by submitting a form online or calling our office at 503-255-9092 for a free case evaluation.

Do You Need Benefits? Request a Free Consultation

Fill out the form below to receive a free & confidential consultation

Contact Form

Scroll to Top