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Can I receive Unemployment Compensation Benefits and Disability Benefits?

After losing a job due to a disability, many people apply for and receive state unemployment compensation benefits. Unemployment compensation benefits provide temporary income to unemployed workers. In order to receive weekly unemployment compensation benefits, one must affirm, to the GA Department of Labor, that he or she is actively seeking employment and is available for work. Each state has different requirements to collect unemployment compensation benefits.

Receiving unemployment compensation benefits can have an effect on your social security disability claim. But, you cannot be denied social security disability benefits only because you received unemployment compensation benefits. The Supreme Court held that a claim for social security disability benefits is often consistent with a claim for relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court reasoned as follows:

SSA sometimes grants SSDI benefits to individuals who not only can work, but are working. For example, to facilitate a disabled person’s reentry into the workforce, the SSA authorizes a 9-month trial-work period during which SSDI recipients may receive full benefits. See 42 U.S.C. § 422(c), 423(e)(1); 20 CFR § 404.1592 (1998). See also § 404.1592a (benefits available for an additional 15-month period depending upon earnings). Improvement in a totally disabled person’s physical condition, while permitting that person to work, will not necessarily or immediately lead the SSA to terminate SSDI benefits. And the nature of an individual’s disability may change over time, so that a statement about that disability at the time of an individual’s application for SSDI benefits may not reflect an individual’s capacities at the time of the relevant employment decision.

Following the Cleveland Supreme Court analogy, a claim for Social Security disability benefits [ie. SSI (Title XVI), DIB (SSDI/Title II), DAC, or Disabled Widows or Disabled Widower's claim] is also consistent with a claim for unemployment compensation benefits, whereby a claimant may state that he is willing or able to work. In fact, there is a Memorandum from the Social Security Administration‘s Chief Administrative Law Judge Frank A. Cristaudo, located in Falls Church, VA, who concludes that unemployment compensation benefits do not necessarily preclude the receipt of social security disability benefits. Chief Judge Cristaudo also cites Social Security Ruling 00-1c and Carolyn C. Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp., 526 U.S. 795(1999).

The Social Security Administration looks at the totality of the circumstances in evaluating whether or not you are disabled including but not limited to your medical conditions, treating source records, past work history, and earnings. Bottom-line is: receiving unemployment compensation benefits will not automatically disqualify you from receiving social security disability benefits BUT it can be used against you. Some Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) believe that if you are receiving unemployment compensation, then you think that you can work, and this conflicts with a claim for disability. The ALJ may question you about the specifics of why your job ended to find out if your job ended due to a mental or physical condition(s).

Below are some additional sample questions that a ALJ may ask:

 How long have you been receiving unemployment compensation benefits?
 Have you applied for any part-time or full-time jobs?
 How many jobs have you applied for?
 Do the jobs that you have applied for require heavy lifting?
 Do the jobs that you have applied for require rigorous physical activity?
(ie, standing, lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling)
 Are the jobs that you have applied for classified as high stress or fast pace?
 Are any of the jobs you have applied for similar to your past jobs?
 Have you had any job interviews?
 Have you had any job offers?
 Do you believe you can work full-time?

If you win your case, receiving unemployment compensation benefits will also affect whether you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI payments are need-based for persons with little or no income. If a person receives unemployment compensation benefits, he or she may have excessive income and can be ineligible for SSI depending upon the monthly amount. However, if you applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (also called SSDI, DIB or Title II), then you can still be eligible for SSDI, which is based on the FICA taxes paid by you, as an employee.

Any further questions, please contact the Law Office of Kathleen M Flynn, LLC at 404-479-4431 or visit our website at www.kathleenflynnlaw.com