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Can You File a Disability Claim While on Unemployment?

Collecting Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) and unemployment benefits simultaneously is unusual. Each one is a much-needed form of supplemental income, but they serve two different purposes. It can be controversial to file a disability claim while on unemployment, and you don’t want to go through the process of filing unless there is reason to believe your application will be accepted.

There are scenarios in which someone might receive overlapping benefits, particularly if a disability claim is based on changing circumstances. Disability claims examiners and Social Security judges use their discretion when making rulings and oftentimes reject claims. Your unemployment status could signal to them that you will return to work soon, so just be sure you’re not jeopardizing your disability claim by sending mixed messages in your application.

Filing for Disability While on Unemployment in Arizona

Unemployment benefits enable workers to pay for basic needs while they look for a new job. To receive unemployment in Arizona, you typically must be willing and able to accept suitable, full-time employment. In such states, it can be more difficult to receive both types of benefits since it is presumed you are seeking full-time employment. In contrast, SSDI is intended to support people who are unable to work due to a disability.

However, there might be a valid reason that could lead you to file for both types of benefits – for example, if you become injured while collecting unemployment. Some people receive reduced monthly disability payments while working in a limited capacity, so one could argue that minimal work isn’t a disqualifying factor.

Receiving Both Benefits

When you file for disability, you are generally stating that you haven’t been able to work for twelve months, at least enough to reasonably support yourself. It can also signal that you anticipate being unable to work for at least that long, even if you were recently let go from a job, so there is a gray area. People receiving disability are entitled to a trial work period, during which time their ability to work is being assessed.

In other words, the Social Security Administration (SSA) understands that work situations can change depending on your medical status. Trial periods can provide relief for people with fluctuating health and work situations and can continue until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period

How Will the SSA Respond?

A disability judge will likely know if you’re collecting unemployment benefits. Can you prove your condition has worsened since you applied for them? Some judges may deny your disability claim if you received unemployment after applying for disability, but there is some leeway when it comes to rulings. For instance, you might not receive disability benefits for the time you were on unemployment, but they could still kick in afterward. As long as you have a verified disability that limits your ability to work, there is a chance you will qualify after your unemployment ends.

However, if records show that you have recently applied for certain jobs, that information could impact your ruling, particularly if they require physical labor that seemingly contradicts your claim.

Exceptions to the Rule

It isn’t illegal to claim both benefits at some point if it becomes necessary to do so. One role of the SSA is to determine the type of work you are realistically able to perform with your disability. This is known as your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). There might be a valid argument for doing so if:

You might qualify for disability if you can’t do your old job and it would be difficult to switch professions based on your age. Older applicants with physical limitations might have a higher chance because there are more reasons their ability to work is limited.

Work with a Disability Lawyer

A thorough review of your medical records will take place to determine the limitations of your disability and the reason you need additional assistance. If you are on unemployment, you will benefit from a legal expert who can provide perspective on your situation. Some disability lawyers advise against collecting unemployment benefits when applying for SSDI, and your lawyer will tell you if your claim resembles others that have been denied.

If you need a lawyer who specializes in Social Security Disability to help you understand more about receiving payments while on unemployment, fill out our online form or call us at 480-508-8800 to schedule a free case evaluation.