Monday, August 1, 2011

Unemployment Benefits - What Impact do they have on the Disability Application

     Many of our clients are collecting Unemployment Benefits while they are waiting for their Social Security Disability Hearing.  The average wait for a hearing with an administrative law judge is 12 months. During that time, making ends meet can be challenging and some are able to obtain unemployment benefits to hold them over.  The potential conflict is that to obtain these benefits the claimant must certify that he or she is looking for full time employment.  Arguably, looking for work is not inconsistent with a social security disability application.  However, the Judge may consider this to be inconsistent and use the unemployment benefits as an excuse to deny the claim.  I am of the opinion that our clients need to survive during the long wait to get a hearing and if that means lawfully obtaining unemployment benefits while they wait.  Recently the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Memorandum to administrative Judges stating "The receipt of unemployment benfits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled."        In 1999 the Supreme Court held that a claim for social security disability benefits is often consistent with a claim for relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act even though there must be an ability to work in order to obtain relief under the ADA.  The Supreme Court noted that under the presumptions emnbodied in our five step sequential evaluation process, a person can qualify for Social Security disability benefits even though he or she remains capable of performing some work.  Similar logic applies to applications for unemployment benefits.  For this reason, the memorandum from 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".  For more information please go to

1 comment:

  1. I need to get something done with my unemployment. It's been so hard to get the bills paid lately. Since I have been out of work, it's been hard to get by. Thanks for all the great information!