Unemployment in 2020: How Does It Affect Disability and Why?

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How Does Disability Affect Unemployment in 2020 and Why?

If you've been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you're able to do so because of a medical condition that prevents you from being able to work. Unemployment benefits, on the other hand, are only available to people who were once employed but then lost their job due to a lay-off.

In most cases, a person can't claim both disability benefits and unemployment at the same time. However, there are some unique situations in which it's possible to claim both. 

If you have questions about how disability affects unemployment, this article is for you. 

The Law as it Relates to Unemployment

Though it seems as though the same person wouldn't need both unemployment benefits and SSDI benefits, there's no law in place that prohibits you from applying for both types of benefits.

In 1999, there was a Supreme Court Case known as "Cleveland vs. Policy Management Systems Corp". This case determined that anyone who applies for both types of these benefits has a legal right to explain why they feel like there's no contradiction between their need for both. The case also states that it's possible for a person to qualify at the same time for both types. 

Your Eligibility

If you're already claiming unemployment benefits, the government requires you to keep actively looking for work to stay qualified. For many, however, a physical inability to actually go out looking for work hinders their efforts.

There are many states that require beneficiaries to look for full-time employment in order to keep unemployment benefits coming. Other states allow for part-time work.

This is important if you're a person with disabilities because you might not be able to work a full-time job. You might only be physically capable of keeping a part-time job. If this is your situation, you might be among those who qualify for SSDI benefits and unemployment benefits simultaneously. 

The Social Security Administration states that a medically-qualified person can, under the right circumstances, receive disability benefits while working. As long as they claim no more than $1,000 of combined income, both earned and unearned, you may be able to continue receiving disability benefits.

Be aware that unemployment income will count toward these disability limits of income. 

A Trial Period

If you have a disability, the SSA will allow you the opportunity of determining whether or not you're able to return to the workplace permanently. You won't lose your disability benefits while you figure this out. This trial period lasts for 9 non-consecutive months during a 60-month period. 

During this time period, the government will pay your disability benefits as normal without penalizing you for the amount you're able to earn. But, if you work during this trial period and then lose your job due to a lay-off, you might still be able to receive unemployment along with your original disability benefits. 

When Does It Make Sense for Me?

If you think you might be able to take on a part-time job that doesn't bring in more than $1,000 a month, you might want to consider applying for SSD and unemployment. 

If you're among those who can collect unemployment benefits while looking for a part-time job, you still need to research how your unemployment benefits might affect any Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you do qualify for unemployment benefits and start receiving monthly payments, those payments can affect your eligibility for the disability program. You can be denied SSI benefits if your unemployment checks cause your monthly income to exceed the limits. 

If you go the route of applying for both, you aren't saying that you can hold down a full-time job but you're also not saying that you are unwilling to look for a job. In this situation, you state that your disability prevents you from working full-time and that you need unemployment benefits to make up for your lack of a job while you seek other options. 

Note that some states require you to be willing to look for a full-time job in order to receive unemployment benefits. You'll need to check with your state laws ahead of time. 

Maintain Honesty

If you decide that you're entitled to collect unemployment benefits while also receiving SSD benefits, don't try to hide the fact that you're applying for both. State agencies often communicate with another and you don't want to come across as though you're trying to be dishonest.

If you are entitled to receive both benefits, then chances are you'll get them. However, if you're not entitled to one or both types of benefits, you should avoid applying and focus only on that in which you're entitled. 

Learn More About Navigating Life With a Disability

Whether you've recently become disabled or you've dealt with a disability for many years, there are still questions that can arise regarding unemployment, disability benefits, finding employment, and more. Having the right resources can make all the difference on this journey. Now that you've learned a little bit more about how a disability can affect unemployment benefits, take some time to browse our other helpful articles on finding a job that works with your unique needs. 

Our premier job board can help you narrow down your search to only those jobs that will be right for your situation. Check back often as new jobs are posted regularly. Whether you're looking for a part-time job to supplement your benefits, or something full-time and long-term, we can help you out.