What Impact do Unemployment Benefits Have on Applying for Disability?
Waiting for a hearing from an administrative law judge can sometimes take up to a year or more. Therefore, it's not uncommon for many who are waiting for their Social Security Disability Hearing to collect Unemployment Benefits in the mean time. The potential problem with using Unemployment Benefits to make ends meet while waiting for your Social Security Disability Hearing is that you must certify that you're looking for full time employment. Although, searching for work is not necessarily inconsistent with making a Social Security Disability Claim, a judge may consider it so and use it as an excuse to deny your claim.
Not too long ago, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a memorandum to administrative judges stating that "the receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled." Additionally the Supreme Court held in 1999 that a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits is often consistent for a claim for relief under the Americans with Disability Act. This is so even though the ADA requires an ability to work in order to obtain relief under the act.
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The Supreme Court noted that within the logic of the five step sequential evaluation process it's possible for an individual to qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits and also be capable of performing some kind of work. This means similar logic certainly applies to applications for unemployment benefits. It was for this reason that the Chief Administrative Law Judge states, "accordingly, ALJs should look at the totality of the circumstances in determining the significance of the application for unemployment benefits and related efforts to obtain employment."