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Can a person collect unemploment benefits and social security disability benefits at the same time.

Glenolden, PA |

I have been receiving unemploment benefits since january of 2009 receving 988 per month. My disabilty application has just been approved and I am being retroed back since january of 2009. I am told that I am receiving a check for around 17000. Am I entitled to keep all the money that I am geting from disabilty and not be responsible to pay and of my unemployment back.

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Attorney answers 5


You are in a difficult position because when you were accepting unemployment benefits you affirmed that you were available and willing to work. However, your disability documents asserted that you were medically unable to work. Obviously, the two statements that you made in your applications are adverse. The state may wish to recoup the payments. Speak with an attorney in your area that is familiar with both of these entitlement programs.


Unemployment insurance and Social Security disability are two separate programs, with different goals. In general, if you are receiving unemployment insurance benefits you are ready willing and able to work, and are not disabled. However, receiving unemployment compensation after your alleged onset date does not preclude a favorable finding for your Social Security disability claim.

The Social Security Administration recognizes that a claimant should not have to choose between unemployment compensation and Social Security disability. Nevertheless, some juges do not like it, and the judge is entitled to consider receipt of unemployment benefits when deciding your disability claim.

Your disability claim has been granted. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you should not have to return benefits, but you should terminate your unemployment benefits.


In Pennsylvania, the answer to that question is "No." One can only get unemployement if one is available and able to work. A person can only gett SSD if they are not able to work due to a disability.

If the State should seek to recoup benefits that you have already received, you should contact an unemployment attorney in your area to help you.

I discuss this typ situation on my blog, which you may click on and review below.


As these answers indicate, you are not prohibited by Social Security from receiving unemployment.

But each State administers a separate unemployment insurance program within guidelines established by Federal law. Unemployment benefits are for individuals who lost their job thru no fault of their own (as determined under State law). So each state has its own criteria for the receipt of unemployment benefits. So when you have become unemployed you should check with your state's unemployment program for specific information about how to apply, what is offered and how to qualify for those benefits. For contact information in your state, go to the United States Department of Labor's website for a locator tool. This tool is found at


As you can see, there is a bit of confusion among practicioners about your questions. This stems from the hostility SS ALJs typically display to claims for disability that overlap the receipt of unemployment compensation benefts. That hostility, however, is usually because the ALJs are also misinformed.

You can receive an award of social security disabilty benefits for the same period of time you received unemployment compensation benefits. The two benefits, as indicated by some on this post are not always mutually exclusive. I had one client in the past who was awarded social security benefits after she collected UC benefits. She later received a notice of overpayment and recoupment from the UC Bureau. I cannot recall whether she actually ahd to pay the money back. Check with a lawyer if you receive such a notice. Not all UC overpayments actually have to be repaid.

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