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Can You Collect Disability and Unemployment Benefits?

We’re now seeing hearings come up for many claimants who lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of these individuals qualified for enhanced unemployment benefits for much of the last year, so of course the question has come up whether they can collect both unemployment and Social Security Disability Insurance.

The short answer is yes, but there are a couple caveats to keep in mind.

One state, Minnesota, requires unemployment benefits to be reduced 50 percent of the amount a claimant receives in disability. Currently, Minnesota is the only state to have this offset, and even they’re considering getting rid of this penalty.

And while no other state reduces those benefits, that doesn’t mean that some judges might view collecting unemployment unfavorably.

That’s because unemployment insurance requires that you verify that you are looking for work, while disability requires showing you are incapable of performing any full-time work activity.

That sounds like a conflict on its surface, but the law is much more complicated. Keep in mind that if you’re over age 50, Social Security can find that you are capable of performing some jobs in the national economy, but you can still be found disabled under the “Grid Rules,” which also keep in mind how much more difficult it is for older individuals to find these jobs.

Even if you’re under 50, there is no rule barring collecting benefits from both sources, though some judges do like to use unemployment benefits as evidence that a claimant can work, so it’s important to discuss how collecting unemployment could impact your case with a disability attorney.

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