CAN YOU REALLY HAVE IT BOTH WAYS?
The federal-state unemployment insurance program provides cash benefits to eligible workers. While state law determines eligibility for unemployment benefits, generally you must be unemployed through no fault of your own. In most states, you will have to represent that you are able to work, be available for work, and be willing to accept a suitable job offer. In Florida, the eligible worker can look for part-time work while drawing unemployment benefits.
If you meet the Social Security definition of disability, you are entitled to disability benefits and medical coverage under one of several programs. Disability is defined for Social Security purposes as the inability to work because of a physical or mental impairment(s) that is either (a)expected to result in death, or (b) has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
Often, when a client comes to me* for representation in a disability case after having been denied at the initial levels, I find that they have been collecting unemployment for at least a limited time.
There is an obvious tension and contradiction between the requirements for unemployment benefits (applicant claims they are able to work) and Social Security disability (applicant claims they are unable to work).
WILL AN APPLICATION FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DISQUALIFY A CLAIMANT FROM RECEIVING SSDI?
As a general rule, the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not in and of itself lead to the conclusion that you are not entitled to Social Security disability benefits. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a person may qualify for Social Security disability benefits even though he or she remains capable of performing some work. It is the position of the Social Security Administration that you do not have to choose between applying for Unemployment Benefits and Social Security disability benefits.
The receipt of unemployment benefits is, however, one of the many factors that are considered in determining whether you are disabled. Therefore, an application for unemployment benefits is evidence that the Social Security Administration/Judge must consider together with all of the medical and other evidence. Both the Social Security Administration and the state unemployment agency will likely take notice of your dual claim, require an explanation, and use that information in making eligibility determinations.
Be sure to discuss this issue with your disability attorney before you make your initial social security application or unemployment application.
*If you have questions, call our office at 305-653-5555 to speak with our experienced disability attorneys for both SSDI and SSI as well as Workers Compensation.