Can You Collect Unemployment While On SSDI Or SSI? | Full Guide

Young Man Lost Job Due To Covid

If you lose your job through a layoff or some other situation that is not your fault, then you might be able to draw unemployment benefits. These benefits often help people to bridge the gap between losing their job and finding a new job. Unemployment benefits can help people pay their bills and even put food on the table during this transition period. However, what happens if you already receive Social Security disability benefits? Can you receive both types of benefits at once? Keep reading and we will tell you everything that you need to know about both of these benefits as well as whether you can get both payments at one time.


Social Security Disability Benefits Overview

There are two types of Social Security benefits that you might be receiving. Those two types are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The main difference between the two is the eligibility requirement when it comes to work history. You must have a sufficient earnings record to qualify for SSDI benefits. This means that you must have paid enough into the Social Security system through Social Security taxes while you were working to qualify for benefits. Essentially, you must have worked full-time for at least ten years in order to be eligible to receive these benefits.

SSI benefits, on the other hand, are only available to those with a serious financial need. You must have limited income and resources to qualify for these benefits. Generally, your resources must be less than $2,000. There is no work requirement to qualify for SSI benefits.

For both types of benefits, you must have a disability that prevents you from performing substantial, gainful activity. This means that you are not able to work as a result of your impairment or condition. The disability must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months. When it comes to what conditions qualify for disability, the rules are basically the same for both SSI and SSDI. The Social Security Blue Book has a listing of impairments that automatically qualify you for benefits. If you do not meet one of these listings, a combination of conditions that ultimately affects your ability to work can still get you qualified.


Unemployment Benefits Overview

First, the unemployment rules vary from state to state. Since this is a program that is administered jointly by the state and federal government, each state is allowed to set their own rules. At a high level, you can generally receive unemployment compensation when you lose your job through no fault of your own. You must have sufficient work and wage history to qualify for unemployment insurance in your state. In addition, there is a time limit to how long you can receive benefits. If you are unable to find a job before your unemployment insurance benefits expire, then you might have to look for other financial assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some unemployment rules to change, and people have been able to get extended benefits due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some states require that you actively look for full-time work while receiving benefits while others will allow you to receive benefits even if you are only looking for part-time work. To apply for benefits, your previous employer can often help you get the application process started. If they are unwilling to help, then you should contact your state’s unemployment insurance office. You should go ahead and apply for benefits as soon as you become unemployed, and have all your previous employment details ready as those will need to be placed into the application.


SSDI & Unemployment: Can You Get Both?

Application For Unemployment Benefits

Many people wonder, “Can you get unemployment and disability?” From a legal perspective, there is no law that prevents you from receiving both SSDI benefits and unemployment benefits. Receiving both benefits won’t affect the amount of the other either, except in a couple of states like Minnesota and Illinois. However, from a practical standpoint, the eligibility for these two programs are fundamentally at odds with each other. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must essentially certify that you are disabled and unable to work. However, to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must attest that you are willing and ready to work. These two positions on your employment status are in direct conflict with each other. The disclaimer here is that there are a few exceptions where you might be able to successfully receive both types of benefits.

When it comes to the Social Security Administration (SSA) approving your claim for disability, most administrative law judges (ALJs) who hear these claims do not like to see unemployment benefits being paid while you have a pending disability claim. When you apply for disability benefits, your unemployment benefits record will likely become a part of your file. Some judges will not pay your claim if you are receiving unemployment while others might just delay your disability onset date until after your unemployment benefits stop. In some cases, you might be able to explain to the judge that you were only applying to part-time jobs or light duty sedentary work. However, if you have been applying for full-time jobs involving manual labor, but are telling the judge that you cannot work due to medical conditions, then you likely have a problem and your disability application will probably be denied.


How SSI Is Impacted By Unemployment Benefits

So, can you collect unemployment and disability from SSI? Similar to SSDI benefits, you might have a problem if you are claiming on your SSI application that you are unable to work yet you are applying for jobs while receiving unemployment benefits. The other consideration here is that SSI payments require you to have limited income and resources. If you receive unemployment benefits, then you might be making too much money to receive SSI benefits as well. This could present a problem for SSI beneficiaries. You should know that the Social Security Administration has access to your unemployment records, so they can stop your SSI payments if you start earning too much unemployment income.


The Bottom Line

While receiving both Social Security disability benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time is feasible, it rarely happens because of the eligibility requirements of each. Your monthly payment from disability might be affected if you start to receive unemployment. If you have a pending disability application, then you should certainly talk to a disability lawyer before filing a claim for unemployment to see how it will affect your pending application. Retirement benefits should not be affected by unemployment unless you are below full retirement age and receive more than the earned income limit.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the most money you can make while on Social Security disability?

By filing an application for disability, you are stating to Social Security that you are unable to work due to your disability. So, can you work while on disability? Technically, yes, but it must be very limited and have little income. The maximum amount that you can earn while receiving SSDI benefits is $1,310 per month. If you make more than this, then your disability will be considered ended and your benefits will stop.


Will my Social Security benefits be reduced if I work?

Typically, your disability benefits are not reduced. You either receive them or you do not. If you are receiving disability benefits, and you start to work, then your benefits might be revoked. You cannot earn more than $1,310 per month working while on SSDI benefits. Remember that SSI benefits require low income and limited resources, so earning money while receiving SSI benefits can stop those as well.


What is the time limit for unemployment?

In most states, you may receive unemployment for up to 26 weeks. In some situations, the government might decide to extend those benefits. The COVID pandemic is a great example. With so many people losing their jobs, unemployment rates rose quickly. In that case, the government decided to extend unemployment benefits as well as add an extra amount onto each payment. But can you draw unemployment if you have filed for disability? Yes, you can, but your application for disability might be denied due to the fact that you are certifying that you are willing and able to work on your unemployment claim.