When a physical or mental disability affects your ability to work, it is not unreasonable to consider filing a disability claim, as well as, a claim for unemployment benefits. However, filing for both simultaneously can be very problematic. Why? Because, filing for both creates a direct contradiction in claims and could keep you from receiving benefits. Understanding how collecting unemployment affects your disability claim is very important.
What is the contradiction between disability and unemployment claims?
When you file a social security disability claim, you are essentially representing to the government agency that you are unable to perform substantial work activities, due to a mental or physical impairment. However, when you file a claim for unemployment benefits, you are representing to another government agency that you are ready and available to work, should you find a job that fits your skills. Otherwise, you cannot collect unemployment benefits. These two representations are obviously in conflict.
Should I attempt to collect unemployment and disability at the same time?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. There is a great debate between those individuals in the disability field, as to the best course of action to take. Disability lawyers typically advise against collecting unemployment benefits at the same time. There are some Administrative Law Judges for Social Security who are suspicious of individuals who apply for both benefits at the same time. In some cases, disability claims are outright denied to those who do so. However, there can be certain situations where both claims could legitimately coincide.
Social Security’s position on unemployment benefits
According to Social Security, the mere fact that a person is receiving unemployment benefits does not automatically prevent them from receiving disability benefits, as well. But, a disability claims examiner is allowed to consider that fact in making the determination as to whether the applicant is disabled. For example, if a disability applicant states in his unemployment claim that he has applied for jobs that require the type of physical labor he claims on his disability application he cannot do, that contradiction will be taken into account.
It may not be worth the risk of losing disability benefits
The most important thing to do, is seriously consider the potential consequences of receiving unemployment benefits. Every applicant has a choice. Not only do you run the risk of being denied disability benefits, but you may be required to repay unemployment benefits if it is later determined that you were not eligible to work, because of a disability. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, at the time you are approved for disability, be sure to stop those unemployment benefits immediately.
The best way to protect yourself is to discuss your situation with an attorney before you make the decision about whether to file for both disability and unemployment benefits. Your attorney can also help you manage the timing of both filings, if necessary.
If you have questions regarding unemployment, or any other social security disability concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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