Unemployment and Social Security Disability

It has been a tough year for our economy. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.3% of the labor force is currently unemployed. Unfortunately, when employers cut back, employees with disabilities or who are unable to perform their work as well as others, due to medical conditions, are among the first group to be let go.

Look to State Law for specific information about unemployment benefits

Unless you worked for the federal government or are eligible for benefits from a union, you will have to look to your state government for information about unemployment benefits. Each State administers a separate unemployment insurance program within guidelines established by Federal law.

Unemployment benefits are for individuals who lost their job thru no fault of their own (as determined under State law). So each state has its own criteria for the receipt of unemployment benefits. So when you have become unemployed you should check with your state’s unemployment program for specific information about how to apply, what is offered and how to qualify for those benefits.

For contact information in your state, go to the United States Department of Labor’s website for a locator tool. This tool is found at http://careeronestop.org/

Generally, the applicant for unemployment benefits will have to show that they are “willing and able to work” and will have to look for work in order to receive unemployment benefits.

Not every state requires applicants to register and participate in a job search. Also, because each state is different, the state unemployment benefit amount may be reduced by the receipt of Social Security benefits.

Check with your state’s unemployment laws to find out how each state will evaluate receipt of Social Security disability benefits. You can use the locator service mentioned above.

Some individuals receive unemployment benefits and also apply for Social Security disability benefits.

They look for work consistent with their disability but are unable to find such employment. Each state will handle and evaluate each case based on their own laws and program criteria. So again, you should work closely with your state’s employment service when applying for both state unemployment and federal Social Security disability benefits.

By contrast, Social Security disability benefits are provided by the federal government.

The Social Security Administration considers unemployment benefits as unearned income.

As such, unemployment benefits can affect both SSI entitlement and the amount of the SSI benefit.

But the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not affect the amount of Social Security disability benefits (unlike SSI).

The Social Security disability benefits benefit is calculated based on your prior work history and payroll contribution to Social Security. Resources, such as unemployment benefits, are not factored into the formula.


If you can’t work due to a disability, call us at 1-800-481-0302 or visit our website.