A person may be able to qualify for Social Security disability and unemployment benefits even though these two programs have very different missions. However, applying for both types of benefits may raise certain implications, so it is important that claimants understand the potential risks and benefits of receiving both types of benefits at the same time.

Social Security Disability

Social Security disability is a program designed to provide monetary and medical benefits to individuals who suffer from a disabling condition that prevents them from maintaining substantially gainful employment. To qualify for Social Security disability, the claimant must have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year or be terminal. A personal injury lawyer can explain that a person may qualify for benefits based on having a medically determinable impairment that meets or is equal to one in the Blue Book or given the claimant’s residual functional capacity, that he or she cannot perform other work.

Social Security does not consider unemployment benefits earned income, so these benefits will not reduce the claimant’s amount of Social Security disability benefits.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are provided to eligible individuals who were terminated from their employment, usually for no fault of their own. To receive unemployment benefits, the individual must certify that he or she is willing and able to work and is actively searching for work.

While some states offset unemployment benefits based on what a claimant receives from Social Security disability benefits, Illinois stopped offsetting unemployment benefits when claimants were simultaneously receiving Social Security benefits in 2015.

Contradictions of Applying for Both Types of Benefits

While it may be possible to receive both types of benefits at the same time, there may be drawbacks. People applying for unemployment benefits declare that they are able to work while people applying for Social Security disability benefits are declaring that they are unable to work. Unemployment benefits may be denied on this basis if the board believes that the employee is not being honest about his or her ability to work. Likewise, a Social Security claim may be adversely affected if the applicant is claiming to be able to work to another agency.

In some situations, there is not a contradiction. For example, Social Security disability recipients can earn up to the substantial gainful activity limit. If their service is discontinued with an employer, they might seek unemployment compensation.