Practical Advice to this Question: Where can I get help now that I am unemployed?

Lately, this is the most frequent question I am asked by clients and prospective clients alike.  Many people who lose their jobs because of health issues are quite distraught.

In a distraught emotional state, an unemployed individual (who is also in pain, heavily medicated, etc.) can make poor choices.

  • Some do an unrealistic job search.
  • Some will not seek health benefits due to the quality of care electing to go without care instead.
  • Some don’t know what is available and are too proud to ask.

It can take time for the reality of the job market and medical symptoms to set in.  Many people tell me that they want to work even though they know they can’t but also don’t want to give up.  Many people also get this kind of unrealistic encouragement from health care providers.

What should they do?

I tell my clients to pursue all benefits that they may be eligible for when they are unable to work.  When you worked, YOU PAID TAXES to support programs for people just like you…people who need help.

But I warn everyone to seek benefits honestly.

Below is more practical advice.  Caveat:  I am a Texas lawyer so I cannot speak to benefits available in other states.  But other states provide similar services explained here.  So search the internet for available services in your state.

Social Security Disability

If you can’t work full-time due to health issues, you should consider applying for Social Security benefits.  The definition of disability under federal law is not easy to meet.  You have to show medical problems which are verified by medical signs and which will either lead to your death or cause you to be out of work for at least twelve months.  There is obviously some discretion in that definition.  If you feel however that you may qualify, consider these benefits.

Rehabilitation

Also, if you still want to work but cannot perform the work you have done in the past, seek out rehabilitation services. Every state has a Vocational Rehabilitation Program to help people with disabilities prepare for, find and keep jobs. These agencies work with each individual to help them make informed choices of services, service providers and an employment goal.

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) is the state agency responsible for the delivery of the vocational rehabilitation program in Texas.  Within that department is the Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS). If you are a Texan you can access a very helpful guide at this website.

http://www.dars.state.tx.us/drs/DRSguide.shtml

You can find the DRS office at this website.

http://www.dars.state.tx.us/drs/DRSoffices.asp

If you need to call DRS here is the number:  1(800)628-5115

Unemployment

If you are a Texan, the Texas Workforce Commission is the place to go.  Below is their website link.

http://www.texasworkforce.org/

Here are some definitions from that website.

Requirements in Texas

  1. Register for work search with WorkInTexas.com (if required) within three (3) business days of the date you submitted your claim application.
  2. Be ready, willing and able to accept full-time work.
  3. Actively search for work each week and keep a detailed log of your work search activities. TWC requires you to do a minimum number of work search activities each week and may ask to look at your log to verify your activities.
  4. Read all information mailed to you by TWC.
  5. Continue to request payments every two weeks while you are unemployed.

Able to Work

What does Texas mean by ability to work?

Able to Work is being physically and mentally able to perform the work you are seeking. You must have the health, endurance, and other physical and mental requirements necessary to perform suitable work for which you are qualified or can readily learn to perform, and which exists in the area where you are seeking work.

What does Texas mean to be available for work?

Available for Work

Available for Work is being ready, willing, and able to accept any full-time suitable work. To be available for work you must:

  • Have adequate transportation
  • Have adequate child care arrangements (if you have children)
  • Be available for job interviews
  • Be willing to work all the days and hours required for the type of work you are seeking
  • Be willing to accept the usual rate of pay for a person of your qualifications and experience

How does Texas define suitable work?

Suitable Work

Suitable Work is work that TWC determines you should be willing to accept, evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some factors TWC considers are:

  • Your experience, qualifications, and training
  • The working conditions and pay for similar work in your area
  • Any risks to your health, safety, or morals
  • The distance to work from your home and local commuting patterns
  • The length of your unemployment

Can a person be disqualified if they apply and receive unemployment and later file for Social Security benefits?

Some of my clients are on unemployment when they hire me to assist them with Social Security disability.  They wonder what will happen to their unemployment benefits.

I don’t know the answer to this question.  But I advise my clients to inform the Texas Workforce Commission as soon as they file for Social Security Benefits and to work closely with them to make sure they understand that the situation has changed.

How does Texas define a disqualification for unemployment benefits?

Disqualified means that you are prevented from receiving benefits. Common reasons for being disqualified are a claimant’s reason for leaving the last work, refusing to accept suitable work, or knowingly giving false information to obtain or increase a benefit.

Can you appeal a determination of disqualification?

You may end the disqualification and receive benefits if you successfully appeal the disqualification or if you:

  • Enter employment after your disqualification begins; and
  • Earn wages equal to six times your weekly benefit amount, or work at least 30 hours a week for six weeks; and
  • Become partially or totally unemployed through no fault of your own; and
  • Give TWC proof of your work or earnings and request that we close the disqualification.

Health Care

If you have a problem paying for health care in Texas, there may be a health center near by that will be able to treat you.  These clinics receive some federal moneys to treat patients who are eligible. This is NOT free health care.  There is no such thing in Texas.  But you may be able to afford their services.

You can locate the facility near you at this website.

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/cihcp/county_locator.shtm

Call the facility to make an appointment.

Other services

You may have other needs too.  If you are a Texan and want information about food stamps, help with paying rent or utilities and other similar assistance, go to these websites and use the screening tools.

https://www.211texas.org/211/

https://www.yourtexasbenefits.com/wps/portal

Good luck in your job search and search for other services.  Hang in there.

Last, once found disabled by Social Security, the unemployment benefit will affect the amount of your SSI back award, but not DIB.

If you need more help with Social Security Disability, call toll free at 1-800-481-0302 or visit us at our website.

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