Can you apply for social security disability if you are getting unemployment? The answer to that question is yes. However, it depends on whether you are claiming benefits on your work record (Disability Insurance Benefits) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income- benefits based on financial need). SSI is based on financial need, thus if your unemployment benefit is too high, you cannot receive this type of Social Security. Disability Insurance Benefits (on your work record) may be appropriate depending upon your age and your specific medical condition.
The coronavirus has put many Ohioans out of work since March 2020. When you first lost your job, you probably collected unemployment and had planned on going back to work once the economy improved and the virus subsided. But, what if your health has significantly declined since you lost your job? In such a case, Social Security Disability is something that you should definitely consider.
In normal times, unemployment pays about half of the unemployed worker’s lost wages. However, pandemic relief laws initially provided both half of the unemployed worker’s wages plus an additional $600 dollars per week. A few months ago, this was lowered to half of one’s wages plus an additional $300 per week. These figures frequently led the unemployed to be paid more on unemployment then they earned while they were working. It is currently unclear whether this additional unemployment will be reinstated and at what amount.
These relatively large unemployment payments have led many workers who are now out of work due to their health to forego a disability application. If you are unable to work due to your health, you should be applying for Social Security Disability.
To get unemployment you are generally telling the government that you are ready, willing and able to work. Accordingly, if your health prevents you from working any job your rightful remedy is Social Security Disability and not unemployment. However, if you are over age 50 and your health prevents you from doing your past job, but not necessarily all jobs, you may be eligible for both unemployment and Social Security Disability. This is because disability laws presume a favorable disability finding for an individual over age 50 who cannot do their past work and is otherwise limited to sedentary work (sit down jobs with minimal lifting). Additionally, Social Security has very specific rules for individuals with certain medical findings that may allow for disability even though you are not necessarily medically prevented from working (provided you are not actually working too much). This is called Step 3 of the five Step sequential evaluation discussed within our website at: https://www.sgsdisability.com/answers/does-your-impairment-meet-or-equal-a-disability-listing/ Individuals who meet the step 3 or Listing of Impairments criteria technically could receive both unemployment and Social Security Disability. Please see the criteria for various medical conditions here: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm
Hence, if you are over age 50, receiving unemployment, but feel as though you cannot return to your previous jobs due to your health, Social Security Disability may be right for you. In addition, there are many specific medical conditions that may allow you to claim both Social Security and unemployment at the same time. In other words, you should not assume that you cannot get disability just because you are receiving unemployment. While this may generally be the case, there are many exceptions to this generalization.
If you would like to speak to an attorney about whether to take unemployment, apply for disability, or apply for both, please give us a call as we offer free consultations.