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How Unemployment Benefits Can Compromise Your Social Security Disability Claim

Many individuals wonder if it is possible to collect unemployment benefits when filing a Social Security Disability claim. After all, the Social Security Disability claim process can take months, if not years, to complete. Wouldn't it be convenient if you could obtain unemployment benefits while you wait? More importantly, is it legal to do so? There is technically no law stating that you cannot apply for Social Security Disability benefits while receiving unemployment payments. That does not mean, however, that your unemployment benefits will not affect your eligibility for the Social Security Disability payments you may need.

Apples and Oranges

You need to understand that the Social Security Disability and unemployment programs are two totally different types of government assistance programs. Unemployment benefits are for those who are not disabled. Those who are receiving unemployment benefits are actively seeking work, trying to find a job and receiving financial assistance until that job is found. Those who are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, on the other hand, are stating that they are unable to perform any type of work activity and that they are completely disabled. Because of this, a claim for disability benefits may mean that you are obtaining unemployment benefits under false pretenses.

If you apply for Social Security Disability benefits while receiving unemployment, it is as if you are contradicting yourself. You are collecting unemployment benefits, which indicates that you are willing and able to work. However, on the other hand, you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, which indicates that you are completely and totally disabled and not able to perform any type of work in the national economy.

You May Be Shooting Yourself in the Foot

If you apply for Social Security Disability benefits while you are collecting unemployment benefits, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. By collecting unemployment benefits, you are stating that you are willing and able to work, but have simply not been able to find work. This completely contradicts the qualifying criteria for Social Security Disability

In order to collect Social Security Disability, you must be completely disabled. This means that you are unable to work. Your best bet is to collect one or the other. If you are disabled, then do not apply for unemployment benefits. Instead, apply for Social Security Disability. If, however, you are not disabled but looking for new employment, unemployment benefits are the answer.


This stuff is crazy! I have call my quote "Case Worker" once a week and leave a message where I am very politely and say that I have a few questions and leave all my information, never get a call back, EVER! I have had a total of six surgeries in the last three years, I am 100% disabled through the Veterans, my primary and my Chiro say no how no way can I every go back to work. I applied going on six months ago. No calls, No return Calls, Nothing! I know they are busy but it would relive alot of frustration for the people they serve, that being the public, if they would just stay in contact with there clients. God Bless everyone on our countrys birthday.

You r so right, I have applied for over a thousand jobs in the past six months, When I state a medical condition as COPD I never hear back for a interview. At age 56 with COPD high blood presure and a lung missing how can i find a job that will hire me. I been denied for disability and had to hire a attorney to file the appeal. I will say thier are poeple who are now drawing SSDI that are more capable in better health than I,. But it seem they can be approved on the first claim. It is confussing and a lengthly process that must ensure that the i

I have almost one year in on filing for disability and so far just a denial. This is insane how long this takes. There is NO money. I cry all the time:(

Hi Penny, i'm sorry to hear about your denial from disability. To help, i'd suggest retaining representation if you haven't already. If you fill out the form on our homepage here a lawyer will contact you and help you with your case. Best of luck!

I have applied for SSDI multiple times in the past for multiple illnesses and have always been denied. I have been Bipolar for 29 years and have had 6 suicide attempts. My unemployment was approved in two weeks (unheard of) due to my employers not making proper accomidations for my Bipolar. I am 44 and have had about 50 jobs in my life, all quit due to Bipolar swings. To me, Unemployment supports my claim for Disability. But will that make a difference? No! They would rather approve someone because they are an alchoholic than someone who has had a life-long crippling illness. I just went to my SSDI forced Psychiatric evaluation and I feel as if I was literally emotionally raped! Not only that, but the Psychiatrist in question had medical records that neither I or my attorney had. I never authorized this disclosure and is a clear violation of HIPAA laws. Will this make a difference? Probably not. Maybe the question should be asked why Social Security Disability will give benefits to people who are "using" the system instead of the ones who need it.

I don't understand S.S.D.. To be awarded S.S.D. you must be unable to perform ANY type of work whatsoever. If you do get awarded you are then immediately given 9 trial work months that allow you to earn an unlimited amount of money. After you have used them and I'm sure S.S.D. will use them to reevaluate your disability, you are then allowed to earn up to $1000 per month before they consider the earnings substantial and then would affect you S.S.D. I live in Las Vegas and have been working the trade shows as security. That works out great because my body can handle about a weeks worth of standing and walking around before it gives out. An interesting thing happened though, there aren't any big trade shows in the summer and my boss told me to apply for unemployment. He doesn't know I'm disabled and on S.S.D.. It just has worked out that it has become necessary yet. So I have this unemployment question in reverse, seeing as I already have S.S.D.. Seeing as I don't work much my unemployment is only for ten weeks with a maximum benefit of about $1700. Now I know to file a claim I must be able to work and this is my dilemma. The claim doesn't specify that I must be able to seek and accept full-time work and my benefits don't reflect that of a full-time worker. I earned that $1700 and I'm willing to accept a similar job and hours but the plan is to go back when he needs me and that will be in less then the ten weeks. Now considering the totality of what I just posted it seems I would not be committing fraud with unemployment and still be within the rules of S.S.D.

Unemployment and Disability Claims pending. Did not realize I could not collect Unemployment while waiting on the disability claim decision. What should I do now? I am actually in appeal on UE and waiting for final decision on Disability? Having to pay my mortgage and buy food each month without help of UE would be impossible...unless I went on welfare? Do I withdraw my UE claim and pay that back or wait for Disabiity decision?

I am 29 yrs old. I have worked since I was 17. Last year I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure and have been on dialysis since then. I do perennial dialysis at home, at night while I sleep which still allows me to live an almost normal life throughout the day. I was told I could apply for disability and could not be refused. I turned that down because I felt as long as I can physically work, I'm going to work. However, in the last 6 months, I have had complications that has caused me to require surgeries and unexpected doctor visits which has caused me to miss work. I filed for disability back in June of this year. I was told it will take 5mons before I would get my first check. So not till Nov. I had to drop my hours at work from 40 to 29 because I was told I can't gross more than 1,070/mon. So for the past two to three months, I have been working 29hrs/wk. I'm having more complications with my dialysis and have to have surgery tomorrow actually.. I just got fired from my job because they say I have missed too much work, even though they know it has been out of my control. Now, I don't get my benefits from disability for another three months.. what am I to do until then? This is wrongful termination, so you would think I could get unemployment benefits but It would be pointless to say I can apply for jobs because I'll just get fired from them too because I'll miss due to medical conditions again. Furthermore, after my surgery tomorrow, I won't be able to work for the next month because I will be healing. Am I shooting myself in the foot for trying to get unemployment benefits?? The people working on my disability case, know that I have been working 29hrs and had intended to until I got my benefits. Now my employer has taken that income from me wrongly. Can I and should I..apply for unemployment? Please respond..

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. When contemplating if you should apply for unemployment or not in your situation, it's important to understand that unemployment benefits are for those who are not disabled. Those who are receiving unemployment benefits are actively seeking work, trying to find a job and receiving financial assistance until that job is found. I would suggest calling the SSA and explaining your specific case, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

I don’t know much about the unemployment benefits. I had discussed about this with one of my friends. But I didn’t understand it clearly. So can you please explain the procedures to file a social security disability claim? I will be waiting for your reply. <a href="">omnitech support</a>

Hi Steve,

Wowwee, that is a big question!

The first step in the Social Security Disability claim process is to file an application for disability benefits, which you can do online at the SSA's official website. You will submit your application to the SSA along with all of your medical evidence and supporting documentation such as doctor's notes saying you can't work, physical therapy, etc. Only 30 percent of Social Security Disability applications will be initially approved.

If your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal with the SSA. Only 15% of reconsideration appeals are accepted.

You then go on to having a hearing to defend your case in front of a judge, which typically takes 3-5 months to schedule. This is where most people win their cases. Approximately 70% of claimants win their case in front of a judge.

One of the reasons why going to court is so successful is because many people choose to use a lawyer or disability advocate. They can help you fill out forms or defend you in court. To speak with a disability advocate in your area, you are welcome to take our Free Disability Evaluation.