Individuals who are unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities or prolonged illness face significant money hardships for obvious reasons. They are unable to work and unable to earn a living, but have not yet received any disability benefits. The current wait time to be approved for disability benefits though the Social Security Administration is quite substantial and for individuals that have recently applied for benefits, the receipt of such benefits remains in the distant future. Thus, they are in need of monetary support during the pendency of their disability claim.
One source of funds that may seem appealing is unemployment benefits. Since an applicant for disability benefits is presumably unemployed due to inability to work, this might seem like an obvious and appropriate avenue at first blush. However, although it is not expressly forbidden, many disability judges strongly frown on disability claimants who are collecting unemployment benefits. This is because unemployment benefits require an individual to affirm that they have a desire to work and are seeking work, and, thus, are presumably able to work. On the other hand, when applying for disability benefits, an individual is affirming that they are unable to work. Thus, the induvial applying for both programs makes contradictory claims about their ability to perform work. This contradiction is not lost on disability judges. They may see the receipt of unemployment benefits as undercutting one’s claim that they are unable to work. They may also see it as an attempt to essentially “double dip” by having claimed both unemployment benefits and now claiming benefits.
However, in the instance that an induvial became unemployed and then later experienced health issues that prevented them from being able to work, the fact that this person was initially on unemployment benefits would not be viewed as improper. This situation, where the individual was first out of work and later became disabled and unable to work would not lead to any backlash from the judge in their case.