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SSDI and Unemployment Benefits

Social Security Attorney Guiding Applicants Through the Process

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to qualified workers covered by Social Security who are unable to work due to a mental or physical impairment. Unemployment benefits, on the other hand, are intended to assist those who are willing and able to work but cannot find a job. These two programs serve different groups of people, such as those incapable of working and those who can and are seeking work. It is uncommon, although possible, for an individual to receive both unemployment and SSDI benefits. Since there are many nuances to the law, discussing your situation with a Social Security lawyer can help you understand the options available to you. At the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, our legal team has over 34 years of experience assisting clients with applying for SSDI benefits and can provide you with the legal guidance you need.

Overview of SSDI Benefits

SSDI is a federal program that provides financial assistance to eligible workers who cannot work due to a long-term disability. The definition of “disabled” under the Social Security Act is strict, and it requires that the applicant is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which is expected to last for a continuous period of one year or longer, or result in death. The disability must be severe, preventing or limiting the applicant from doing basic work-related activities, such as moving, sitting, or thinking. It must also prevent the applicant from doing his or her previous work, as well as other kinds of work that exist in significant numbers in either their region of the country or other regions of the country, considering his or her medical impairment, age, work experience, education, and other factors.

Basic Information about Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are administered by each state and paid to eligible workers from state-specific compensation funds. The eligibility requirements, the amount of payments, and the length of time a beneficiary may receive unemployment benefits are determined by state law. In general, workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet the eligibility requirements under state law may receive unemployment benefits. Those who resign, quit, or voluntarily leave their employment are typically ineligible for unemployment benefits, unless they did so because of a compelling reason caused by the employer (i.e., harassment, discrimination, hazardous work environment, etc.) or by the fact that they now remain incapable of performing that particular job but do remain capable of performing other manners of gainful employment. Employees who are laid off or fired by their employers may receive unemployment benefits, unless their employment was terminated due to misconduct. While receiving unemployment benefits, you must actively be looking for work. Depending on state law, this usually requires regularly submitting documentation of jobs for which you have applied to the state agency.

Claiming Both Unemployment and SSDI Benefits

While there appears to be an inconsistency with claiming that one is unable to work due to a severe disability according to Social Security’s rules and, at the same time claiming that they remain available for gainful employment and are actively looking for full-time work, there are many circumstances where pursuing both claims remains appropriate. In many circumstances, a disabled individual may be incapable of working their former position without significant accommodations to remain so employed. It may be that the employer remains incapable of providing such accommodations, but one is continuing to look for work that would allow for such accommodations (whether it be additional breaks during the day, physical accommodations whereby less lifting or, for instance, sit/stand options are provided, the ability to come in late or leave early, etc.). Likewise, one may be looking for other types of work that would be within their functional limitations, but which jobs may be too difficult for the individual to find as they may not exist in significant numbers or may be jobs that the Social Security grid rules would not expect the individual, based on their past education, skill level, functional limitations and age would be hired to do, thus calling for a finding of disability.

Despite recent attempts by lawmakers to pass legislation preventing claimants from receiving both unemployment and SSDI benefits, the U.S. Supreme Court has previously held that SSDI claims do not inherently conflict with other types of benefits, although it is up to the claimant to prove that both types of benefits are appropriate in his or her particular situation. Indeed, there are situations in which it is possible to pursue both unemployment and SSDI benefits. Another circumstance, for instance, would be if an individual worked full-time but became disabled and is now working only available to work part-time hours, thus earning less than the amount that is considered engaging substantial gainful activity by the Social Security Administration, the individual may be able to apply for both unemployment (in some cases partial unemployment benefits and, in some cases more appropriate full unemployment benefits) and SSDI benefits.

However, it is also important to note that receiving unemployment benefits while applying for SSDI benefits can affect the Social Security Administration’s decision regarding your SSDI application, and withholding material information may constitute fraud. In such cases, seeking the assistance of an attorney to handle and file your benefits appropriate claims on your behalf will prevent any potential adverse consequences down the road.

Dedicated Legal Guidance for People Seeking Government Benefits

Claiming both unemployment and SSDI benefits is a complicated decision that may or may not be in your best interest. At the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, our legal team can provide you with an honest and individualized analysis of your situation and explain your options under the law. To discuss your situation with qualified and experienced SSDI attorney Russell J. Goldsmith, call us at (800) 773-8622 or contact us online.