Skip to main content

Can I collect unemployment benefits while filing for Disability?

Chattanooga, TN |

I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since 2001. I currently work and have had my current job since Oct 2004 however the company seems to be in trouble and I fear a lay off or business closing may be coming soon. While I have this job, they are quite understanding of my condition and my limitations, even giving me a company laptop so I can work from home when I am sick and cannot come in. If this job goes away I do not foresee another company working with me as they have but I cannot afford no income while waiting on benefits to be awarded. What would you say is the best option for me to take if this happens?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

I read the answers that Mr. Wayson and Mr. Farrell provided, and I agree with them (as usual, they provided good and accurate advice). From the perspective of someone who practices Social Security law in Chattanooga, specifically, I can say that unemployment claims are not a big issue for our ground of Social Security judges here in the Chattanooga hearing office. Some judges think it's a bigger deal than others, and some of ours will ask a few questions about it in their hearings, but I can't think of a single time that one of the Chattanooga judges has made it into a big issue in someone's case. If you do lose your job and you need to talk to someone about Social Security, I would be happy to talk to you. Good luck, and here's hoping you won't need to file a claim at all.

Jeremy Bordelon is a licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee only, and is authorized to practice in all Tennessee State and Federal courts, and before the Social Security Administration in any jurisdiction. Please call our firm at 1-866-959-5362 if you would like to discuss your case in more detail. The answers provided on Avvo.com are for information purposes only, and should not be relied on as legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. In some jurisdictions, this answer may be construed as attorney advertising.

Mark as helpful

4 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thanks so much I feel a bit better hearing this from someone local who knows how local judges usually think. I hope I do not need to but if I do I will call you for sure!

Posted

Yes, generally you can file for and collect unemployment benefits while applying for and awaiting Social Security disability benefits. The short answer is "yes, you can collect both types of benefits at the same time" in 45 states. Not so many years ago, a federal law required that states offset unemployment compensation benefits in part, or in full, for individuals receiving Social Security payments. A subsequent federal law then permitted states to decide on such "Social Security offsets" through legislation - and thank goodness they did.

Today, only four states, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, and Utah,retain the "offset" rule. South Dakota has repealed the rule but not yet implemented the change. Colorado is considering a repeal of its offset. In these states, unemployment compensation benefits are reduced by 50 percent of your Social Security payment. This can reduce unemployment benefits to near zero for most workers.

A second memo was issued on August 9, 2010 on how Social Security should treat applications for individuals receiving unemployment benefits. SSA's official position is that "it is often uncertain whether we will find a person who applies for unemployment benefits ultimately to be disabled under our rules, and our decision making process can be quite lengthy. Therefore, it is SSA’s position that individuals need not choose between applying for unemployment insurance and Social Security disability benefits."

The agency certainly will ask questions about the "available for work" part of unemployment versus the "disabled and cannot work" aspect of SS disability, however the two are not mutually exclusive, they mean different things and many factors go into each program's analysis: such as part time vs. full time, prior relevant work vs. a new occupation, leaving a job due to medical reasons or for missing too much work, special accommodations for work vs. competitive full time employment, etc.

Social Security states: "However, application for unemployment benefits is evidence that the ALJ must consider together with all of the medical and other evidence. Often, the underlying circumstances will be of greater relevance than the mere application for and receipt of the benefits. For instance, the fact that a person has, during his or her alleged period of disability, sought employment at jobs with physical demands in excess of the person’s alleged limitations would be a relevant factor that an ALl should take into account, particularly if the ALJ inquired about an explanation for this apparent inconsistency."

(see: http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/nosscr-nov-2007-unemployment-insurance-memo.pdf)

(see also: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1705/~/receiving-social-security-and-unemployment-at-the-same-time)

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

2 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the info I am so worried about losing my job and not having any $ to live on. Before I worked here I worked in retail and since then I could no longer be on my feet like that my current job I have sat in front of a computer 8 hrs a day but not sure if I can find another job like that plus one that would deal with my sickness and all my dr. appts.

Marilyn Hamilton

Marilyn Hamilton

Posted

Mr.Wayson has given an excellent, very thorough answer.

Posted

The short answer is maybe. There are facts we need to know. If you are under 50, the answer is it could be a problem to tell the State you are able to work and collect unemployment while you tell SSA you cannot work and are disabled. If you are over 50, and limited to essentially a part-time job, or at most a sit down job, then probably yes, because SSA policy says if you cannot do your old work and are limited to sit down or sedntary work and are over age 50, they consider you disabled. So you could then be able to say you can work - at a sedentary job - and collect unemployment while you fight your SS disability claim.

This is a complex area in the Social Security area. I have provided a link to a legal guide addressing this issue that may be of some help.

You may wish to talk to an attorney about this issue in more detail. You may contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.

The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is www.nosscr.org.

Good luck to you!

------------------------------------------

Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Mark as helpful

4 lawyers agree

2 comments

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the help I am 32 but due to my MS I walk with a cane have handicap tags on my car and cannot stand for long periods of time to work. My hopes are that I could go on unemployment and file and get approved for disability while I am on it as I cannot afford to live with 0 monies coming in.

Marilyn Hamilton

Marilyn Hamilton

Posted

Just be aware that the application process for Social Security disability can take months, or even years. Unfortunately, the initial application typically takes 3-4 months; if denied, the next appeal, a reconsideration, typically takes another 3-4 months; and if that's denied, a request for hearing can take a year or more. In some places, hearing decisions take 2 to 3 years. Good luck, hope your work situation stabilizes.

Employment topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics