How do unemployment benefits affect a Social Security disability claim?

Getting unemployment benefits and Social Security at the same time can cause a few problems.

How do unemployment insurance benefits affect a claim for Social Security disability benefits?

Receiving unemployment benefits can be a problem if you have a claim for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because you are making two inconsistent statements:

  • To get unemployment benefits, you are claiming that you are able to work, but you cannot find a job.
  • But, to get Social Security disability benefits, you are claiming that you cannot perform any type of work at a substantial gainful activity level (generally full time work).

So, you are saying that you are ABLE and UNABLE to work at the same time.

In my experience, Judges do not like this and you are less likely to be found disabled under these circumstances.

I even recommend that my clients amend the Alleged Onset Date to some time after the unemployment benefits end. I do this by writing a short letter to the Judge noting that I wish to amend the alleged onset date to date “x.” Then, at the hearing, I mention the change to the alleged onset date again.

However, strictly speaking, Social Security does permit you to receive disability benefits and unemployment insurance.

The May 19, 2010, then Chief Administrative Law Judge Frank Cristuado issued a Memorandum states:

… the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not preclude the receipt of Social Security disability benefits. The receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether a claimant is disabled.


Therefore, it is SSA’s position that individuals need not choose between applying for unemployment insurance and Social Security disability benefits.

However, application for unemployment benefits is evidence that the ALJ must consider together with all of the medical and other evidence.

A second memo was issued on August 9, 2010 on how Social Security should treat applications for individuals receiving unemployment benefits.

This is a reminder of the policy concerning receipt of unemployment insurance benefits. Receipt of unemployment benefits does not preclude the receipt of Social Security disability benefits. The receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled. See 20 CFR 404.1512(b) and 416.912(b).

In considering claims of individuals who have applied for unemployment benefits, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) should be mindful of the principles discussed in Social Security Ruling 00-1c, which incorporates Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp., 526 U.S. 795 (1999). In that case, the Supreme Court held, in a unanimous decision, that a claim for Social Security disability benefits is often consistent with a claim for relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) even though there must be an ability to work in order to obtain relief under the ADA. The Court noted that, under the presumptions embodied 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.

In addition, it is often uncertain whether we will find a person who applies for unemployment benefits ultimately to be disabled under our rules, and our decision making process can be quite lengthy. Therefore, it is SSA’s position that individuals need not choose between applying for unemployment insurance and Social Security disability benefits.

However, application for unemployment benefits is evidence that the ALJ must consider together with all of the medical and other evidence. Often, the underlying circumstances will be of greater relevance than the mere application for and receipt of the benefits. For instance, the fact that a person has, during his or her alleged period of disability, sought employment at jobs with physical demands in excess of the person’s alleged limitations would be a relevant factor that an ALl should take into account, particularly if the ALJ inquired about an explanation for this apparent inconsistency.

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.

So, applying for, or receiving, unemployment benefits does not prevent you from getting Social Security, BUT it is a factor Social Security considers in deciding your case.

I have seen Judges react badly when an individual is claiming unemployment benefits and Social Security disability at the same time. Personally, I caution against it. However, if unemployment benefits are the only way you have to make ends meet, it is not (necessarily) the end of your Social Security case.

My thanks to Maine Social Security attorney Gordon Gates for bringing the first memorandum to my attention.

  • Barbara Smith

    I will be receiving only 3 months of unemployment. I last worked on Jan 2008. I didn't even know I was eligible until I went to a work force center and I was told I had to file for unemployment. I just applied for social security disability on the phone but I have not officially signed any medical release papers yet. I have been unemployed for 16 months. I also am a client of VR and have applied for 300 jobs in a year. My counselor told me I should apply for disability as well. These are 2 contradictory organizations as well, but It seems I have no choice. I applied for disabiliy in 2007 and was denied. I worked very sporadically in 2007 and only made about 16,000 dollars. The 5 years before I was making close to 50,000 dollars annually. Even when I was working I forced myself to do it because I had no choice but to work. I frequenly cried while I was seeing patients in the bathroom. I had to cut down on my hours frequently. My disability started in 2004. I have lost everything. I need this unemployment now because my daughter and I are about to go homelesss. So, I would like to know if this is okay. By the time they make a decision I will not even be collecting unemployment. In other words this is very temporary and we desperately need the money.
    Barbara Smith

  • TomaszStasiuk

    Hi Barbara,

    As I state in the article, “receiving unemployment benefits does not prevent you from getting Social Security, but it is a factor Social Security considers in deciding your case.”

    If you would like a more thorough evaluation, I encourage you to speak to an attorney in your area who specializes in Social Security disability cases.

  • Dustin

    Ok here is a good one. I have brain cancer, and tried to continue to workin sells. All it did was cause to many issues. My memory is terrible because of the surgery. So I was able to get Calfornia Disablity right away, with my company paying for my leave of absence for a year, as well as picking up Social Security Disability within 6 months because it's brain cancer. My question is this, my state ran out today, and I can't get back into sells with my issue. Can I claim unemployment because the company would not have me back in that type of position because of the past? So I would be on Social Security already in place as well as unemployment till I can find a job that has nothing to do with sells. Try this question out for size.

  • danielmcmurtry


    I enjoyed reading your article, I had a case at hearing level today that was right on point. The judge cross examined claimant on unemployment benefits, claimant gave a good answer I thought, he said,”no one would hire me when i tried to find employment as required by unemployment office”. I agree with you though, much better if this problem does not arise, but I understand many claimants have no choice.

    Best regards,

    Daniel L. McMurtry, Esq.

  • todd davis

    i was awarded SSD by the ALJ on july 22 2009 in california, a bench decision. I went to the welfare office to apply for GA and they told me I had an open claim with unemployment and had to send in my unemployment claim form for unemployment benefits. I am concerned that if I continue receiving unemployment it will cause problems with my claim. It will take about three months to start getting any money from SSD. I have no money so what should I do???

  • justin8683

    I recieve unemployment benefits because I was wrongfuly fired and I recieve social security because my daughter is disabled. Social security deducted my daughters benefits because I get unemployment with unemployment I get about half of what i made and now I make less and recieve less and now falling behind in bills. someone told me its because I'm not paying into social security is why it was reduced.

  • Thomas

    When the father of a child is collecting unemployment compensation and his child is approved for ssi payments. Base on the social security office said that the child cannot recieve SSI until the father goes back to work. Is unemployment consider an income under the special rule of Social Security and his child would be recieving SSI after he start working. This seem to be a little complicting. Would you please explain why.

  • mariareynolds

    I am disabled since my accident but I was working for 18 months and got unemployment but now I worry that I did not tell Unemployment that I am getting 500 a month on SSD .

  • mariareynolds

    I am disabled since my accident but I was working for 18 months and got unemployment but now I worry that I did not tell Unemployment that I am getting 500 a month on SSD .

  • kcozza

    If you are on unemployment and have become disabled, do you stop unemployment on diagnosis? Then apply for SS Disability? Up to that point able to work.

  • SS Disability

    Amending the alleged onset date is a good idea if this is going to possibly cause the claimant any problems at their hearing. I've dealt with Worker's Compensation issues in SS Disability claims, but have never had the unemployment issue come up yet.

    The problem obviously, is that these claimants end up waiting years sometimes before they even end up getting any benefits. If the unemployment compensation is just right there for the taking, they may have no choice but to accept it while their disability claim is pending (especially now that the Feds are offering extended unemployment benefits due to the economy). Taking the benefits, and then amending the onset date is likely the best way to approach this situation in a SS Disability Hearing.

  • HELP !

    I have 5 kids and lost my job 2 years ago. I am on my extension which may or may not be extended again. I do have a dx of being psychotic and my mother told me to apply for SSD. I've suffered from panic attacks and depression for years (since 12 -its only gotten worst as I have gotten older)….I cant NOT take unemployment because thats the only way I can pay my bills, but I really need SSD…because I know I would qualify with that diagnoses. How could I go about this? I am 32 and need help ! !

  • LAAtty

    It is wise to choose which claim or benefit to pursue. Pursuing both may cause prejudicial outcome.

  • deehardy

    i have been approved for social security disability but untill i was approved i was recieving unemployment benifits.I have just recieved a back pay check from disability .Is this correct?

  • scott

    thats my situation i get laid off every year when work slows down im a single father wit htwin girls they both have devlopmental delays and get ssi because of it the amount is based off what my income is as an ofset bu twhen i collected unemployment they said well because your getting money from unemployment from the state were counting 100% of that twords the children so instead of getting the amount i should have gotten from there ssi i got 2 checks for 16 dollarswhen working my average pay after taxes is around 525 dollars week and oncea month they would send like around 800 total from ssi to me now when i get unemployment 345 dollars a week i get two checks for 16 dollars ? doesnt seem right to me is this legal or is this ssi finding loophole bs to not pay out i live in rhode island

  • Tony crespo

    how can i can get social security when i came out of jail and i can not get job andnow i got a righf foot ligamentter.

  • Asn5


    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and opinions. And while everything you said seemed reasonable, I wanted to make a point on the subject:

    If one applies for Social Security disability benefits and is rejected, the government is telling that person that they are indeed able to work. Even if the applicant appeals the Social Security decision, when answering the unemployment questionnaire, the applicant would have no legal basis to state that they are unable to work. Since the unemployment questionnaire must be signed under penalty of perjury, is the applicant not bound to state that they are able to work?

    A better question is could the State unemployment department seek recovery from a Social Security award. This could be devastating, since unemployment benefits are often more than the amount of SS monthly benefits – thus leaving the applicant with none of the SS award and a State lien on their assets for the deficit.

  • Asn5

    Somewhere there is a job trying out mattresses in a bed factory. Just because those jobs are rare and you can't find one is enough for you to both, qualify for unemployment and qualify for SS benefits, depending on your health. There are plenty of jobs out there that do not include “substantial gainful activity”.

  • Ellen Mitchell

    this is the situation i am in in south carolina.. I qualified for the extentions of benefits for the past 18 months.. now I have just been qualified for disability.. will this be a problem?

  • Saadi Nasir

    this is saadi
    i have recieve my unemployment benefit since one year ago until know and i get my disability approve case befor two weeks but i dont receive any check yet from disability benefit until now
    my quasions is how gonna work this two case

  • Gerald W Riley MS

    There is no payback of SSDI benefits from UI Benefits. Your SSI benefits are affected buy not SSDI.

    Gerald W Riley MS

  • Saexpediter

    Hi, my case is a bit different. Here’s the scenario. I have been receiving disability for 18 months. I recently was informed (and I confirmed) that Social Security allows you to “try” to work for a period of (up to 9months), while receiving your full SS benefit. So I worked for the census for 6 months and have accrued enough time and money to apply for unemployment. My disability is of the emotional variety, and the census job was a 5 hour a day job, (broken up into 2.5 hours twice a day). I (again) realized that I would NEVER be able to work an 8-10 hour day in an office type environment. Here’s the dilemma: Should I apply for unemployment ($400 a week), while I am receiving $3600 a month in social security??? Help Please….

    • JoKo

      How can you state to one agency that you are not capable of working, and state to another that you are able and available for work?

      • TomaszStasiuk

        As noted in the post above, the rules permitting SSA disability are not the opposite of the rules permitting unemployment benefits. Or, to answer your question another way: because the rules say so and so does the Chief SSA ALJ :).

        So, it is possible to get both — at least in theory. In practice, some Social Security Administrative Law Judges take the same approach as you and may not want to allow claims during the period an individual is receiving unemployment benefits. It all depends on the circumstances of the case.

        However, the judges are not pushovers granting benefits left and right, and certainly not in cases where an individual is also getting unemployment.

      • hurt

        I am getting unemployment benefits. I was working a full time job and it required alot of heavy lifting (worked in Intensive Care Unit at a hospital) I worked there for around 10 years and I had a few incidents that hurt my back. I ended up having back surgery and now have cages and other instruments in my spine. I was off work for a long time. I applied for disability and was denied. I tried to go back to work, I was not able to lift but I thought I could still work. My manger put me on a medical leave because she knew that I was hurting myself more trying to work. I ended up getting fired for being off on a medical leave for too long. I refiled for disabiltiy while getting injections and pain blocks in my back. I need to have more surgeries done, but I am not willing to have anymore since the first one didn’t help. I am not able to sit, stand, walk, or lay down for long periods. I can not bend or twist or do any lifting. I am always in pain. I was denied for disability again. They said I can still work. So I am getting unemployment, I am looking for a job that I would be able to do. It is impossible to find a job with my limitations but disability said I was still able to work. So I am getting unemployment while I am waiting to go to court for disability. Just explaining how you can state to one agency that you are not capable of working and to another that I am able and available for work.

  • guest

    ok, so getting ui for a year and then retro ssd, will ui be required to be repaid? if so when and to whom?

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Getting unemployment (UI) benefits while applying for Social Security disability may negatively impact the Social Security disability claim. However, if an individual won their SSA disability case, there wouldn’t necessarily be any repayment assuming SSA was aware of the UI benefits.

      There are some circumstances which could cause a repayment, such as fraud, if the UI benefits are not reported to SSA in a SSI claim (likely overpayment situation), etc. Note: this is not a complete list.

  • teenspirit

    I agree that your either capable of working or your not stop lying! I’m also tired of hearing from people who complain that their unemployment benefits might be cut off after two plus years. I know a person who gets disability and its like four hundred a month. People on unemployment make that in a week and if you add up all the money most people on unemployment have recieved its probably equal to ten years of disability payments.

  • Dee Ennis

    My daughter was receiving unemployment for a least a year, and then she applied for disability, she did not get it the first time around , so she applied again and won won her case. But all this time she did not know she should’nt be receiving unemployment. She contacted the unemployment and they send her a statement for over $9000 witch she paid promply from her award. Now they’ve send her 2 other statements saying she still owes them for overpayment, each statement is different. Can anyone please tell me how this is fair?

    • TomaszStasiuk

      I am sorry to hear that. It sounds really rough. Has she contacted a lawyer in her area?

  • Daddyduck

    I worked for 20 years in a factory. I lost my job in 2008 as my plant moved overseas. Therefore I was able to draw unemployment. But I tried several times before I drew unemployment to get more jobs. I just had to many difficulties as my hearing deteriorated. Some places told me my hearing was a safety hazard and some said my hearing would be to much of a communication problem. Therefore I signed up for disability after my unemployment stopped. I dont think I deserved back pay as I was getting unemployment. Eventually I was approved for disability and they said my onset date was 2008. But law only allowed for backpay up to 12 months. I have been told what Im going to get per month for SSDI and when it starts. They said my backpay would be held for 60 days. If I were not to get back pay that I would get a letter. My letter stated that if I got SSI during the 12 months prior to signing up for disability that backpay would be denied. Yet it didn’t say that unemployment would stop me from getting backpay. I didn’t draw SSI but I did draw unemployment. I really think I’m going to get a letter saying sorry charlie no backpay. But it would be sweet. Thoughts?

    • TomaszStasiuk

      You know, if I had a crystal ball, I would be at the race track. :)

      Anyhow, this part, “My letter stated that if I got SSI during the 12 months prior to signing up for disability that backpay would be denied.” doesn’t make any sense to me.

      I have seen Social Security take out part of the back benefits for Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, that depends on the state the individual is in. I, personally, have not seen SSA reduce back benefits due to prior unemployment benefits, however I cannot say whether SSA can or can’t do this. This is complicated by the interaction between SSA (a Federal program) and UI (a state program based on state laws): 50 states equals possibly 50 different outcomes.

      The short answer is I don’t know. If a the disability case has been approved, then Social Security is figuring out what you will get and how far back it will go. Put another way, you will know soon enough. Write back when you get the decision and let us know how it turned out.

  • Mike Alvarado

    Ihave been on unempolyment all of 2010. I “m now going to receive ssdi. Do I have to repay any money to UI for 2010. Thank You.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      The above article deals with how SSA may respond to UI benefits while a SSA disability claim is being decided. After a disability decision is made, the applicable processing office (the local office for SSI cases, and/or a regional payment center for SSDI cases) decides the back benefit and ongoing benefit amounts as well as any offsets or repayments.

      Assuming Social Security has the relevant information about unemployment benefits, they “should” be able to address that issue.

      This is only half of the equation, though. UI is a state benefit program, and the particular state’s law will apply. So, there may be a particular state-based law or regulation that may come into play as well.

  • Sam

    Couldn’t you technically be disabled and unable to work gainful employment while you drew unemployment if you need an accommodation to work? You were on unemployment looking for work, but you would have to ask for accommodation under the ADA to be able to work the job, but then file for disability since technically you can’t work. So you put your onset date during which you were drawing unemployment looking for work, but whatever job you found, you would have to ask for accommodation.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      As noted in the post (which I just updated with a new-ish memo BTW), you can technically receive both unemployment insurance and Social Security, and more importantly, receiving unemployment benefits does not automatically bar an individual from applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits.


      Receiving unemployment insurance benefits and applying for Social Security disability benefits is, in my experience, often a problem. The outcome varies based on the specific facts of the case and judge hearing the case.

  • Kick

    In TN, it says you have to be looking for a minimum of 20 hours while on unemployment. So, if you work 20 hours minimum wage and make less than $1k which is SGA and can file and get unemployment like that. Then it looks the same to me as someone who had been looking for a 20 hour a week job while on unemployment who later filed for SSDI and had their date of loss while they were on unemployment.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      So, you are saying if working 20 hours a week below SGA (less than $1k/mo gross) shouldn’t hurt one’s case, neither should looking for work 20 hours a week while receiving unemployment?

      It’s a good argument. I was going through the SSA FAQs last night and they are even more clear cut that unemployment should not preclude a SSA disability case.

      However I still see it being an issue when presenting cases to judges. So, people should be aware that receiving unemployment may come up at their hearing.

      • Kick

        It’s my understanding that you can apply and get disability if you work and/or earn less than SGA. Which is around $1k a month I believe right now in 2011. That is correct, yes?

        In TN, it says you have to be looking for a least 20 hours a week of work while drawing unemployment. 20 hours a week at minimum wage is less than $1k a month, which is less than SGA.

        So, it looks the same to me working 20 hours a week, and looking for a job at 20 hours a week. Plus, you also have the argument that just because you were looking for work doesn’t mean that work would become gainful. Especially if you’ve have problems with successful employment in the past, or had prior work place problems because of your conditions.

        I see it mentioned alot about disability cases getting presented to judges. But what percentage of cases get approved without having to be seen by a judge?

        If you go to a mental health clinic for disabiling mental impairments. They usually score you and document how impaired you are and what your level of functioning is. So, I would think it would be easier getting your case approved for a mental health disability if the mental health clinic has documention showing you have extreme low level of functioning vs. someone applying for disability for say chronic fatigue or something that is subjective.

        • TomaszStasiuk

          There are statistics on approval rates. However I don’t have the link available right now. While you can extrapolate total approval and denial numbers, individual judges can vary quite a bit in the the percentage of cases they approve/deny.

          You make a good argument. However, things are not black and white. There are times and judges an argument may work in front of, and times when it won’t.

          • Kick

            Thanks. I’ll probably talk to an attorney to see what he thinks with regards to the judges in my area. But I guess it wouldn’t be much of a problem if the Judge doesn’t buy your date of onset while you were on unemployment as long as he’d be willing to move your date of onset to after your unemplement ran out instead of outright denying the claim.

          • TomaszStasiuk

            You have exactly identified the risk of selecting the “wrong” onset date.

            How *likely* a risk it is, is something a lawyer in you area can go over with you.

          • Kick

            Do you have any advice on how to select an attorney to talk to? I know some attorneys only take your case or talk to you after you have been denied SSDI once or twice. So, might be hard to talk to one if you’ve not even filed yet.

            There are some attorneys, some of which are big coporate 1-800 type deals, that advertise that they will help you file your claim and work it through the system. Those look like a better idea since they help you file and help your word your application for SSDI vs. you filing it on your own. Though, I don’t like the idea of talking to a 1-800 SSDI attorney group and talking to Joe Blow on the phone about getting my application for SSDI set up and signing away that they are my representation.

          • TomaszStasiuk

            I do:

            I’m not a fan of the national firm model. Check out Nate Craig’s comments on this post:

        • TomaszStasiuk

          Cases are not formulaic. It is almost never as simple as “having A, B and C” being better than “having D, E and F.” This causes occasional frustration for my clients trying to find the perfect “recipe” for their case.

          An objective diagnosis is nice. However, the totality of the evidence is almost always more important. Even cases with the same diagnosis vary widely on the evidence each one has. That means that there isn’t a cook book for handling disability cases. You have to individually evaluate each one.

  • Pingback: Reviewing your Social Security exhibit file - Part 3 work history | Colorado Social Security Law()



    • TomaszStasiuk

      Off the top of my head, your question suggests a number of issues: did you use up all the trial work period months? Are you still in the re-entitlement period? Have you contacted Social Security? Etc.

      However, I do not offer legal advice in comments. Contact a lawyer in your area to go over your situation and answer your questions.

  • John

    I recently went through my disability hearing (supplemental) and was approved. During the first hearing I was asked by the Judge if I had any incoming income what so ever and I mentioned that I was receiving Unemployment benefits. Well he did not like this and asked if I knowingly lied, not knowing what to say I said yes. Like I said in the beginning of this post I was approved. After reading some information on applying for both (I was collecting Unemployment 6 months before I decided to apply for Disability) it seems it is not really wrong to do this if ones intention is not to pull one over on the Government. The fact that my disability was backed my several medical specialists and was approved it showed the Judge that I was not doing such. How ever my retro (Dec 2, 2008 to Dec 10th 2010) was withheld without notice of why. Can I assume this was due to my collecting Unemployment? If this is the case is there any way of getting this money back? I don’t know if there is any kind of hardship situation that applies but I have been homeless for 6 plus years (while working, collecting unemployment, and applying/waiting for disability) and would have been far worse off without the unemployment benefits. Any information you can give me will be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance, John Patten.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Hi John,

      Are the retroactive benefits being withheld or are they just not processed yet? If they are being withheld, is it a permanent thing, or is Social Security holding them while they consider things like attorneys fees, work comp offset, repayment of state interim benefits, reduction for any periods of incarceration, etc.

      I can’t offer legal advice in comments so, I am not asking your answer these questions. However, these are some of the issues that occur off the top of my head. If you have an attorney, give them a call. If you do not, your local SSA office should be able to fill you in on what is happening with your retroactive benefits.

      Good luck John!

  • BettyH

    My problem is the last several jobs I’ve had. I had to have an accommodation to do the job. One place fired me because of the accommodations. Another got rid of me because of being under accommodations and I guess they got tired of it. I was almost to the point of having to file for disability anyways as my physical and mental impairments got worse with time and significantly limited me in taking care of myself and working. Since the last place that got rid of me. I had been looking for something I could do while on unemployment. But haven’t been able to find anything due to my many limitations. The last place I was at, I got moved around several times due to my medical problems.

    While on unemployment, I haven’t been able to find anything that I could do. So, I’m going to have to go ahead and file for disability as I had been delaying that as long as I could when I was working. I decided now to instead try and find something I might could do part time while I go through the disability process. I’m going to try and put my date of onset after I was let go from the last place while I was on unemployment. I didn’t plan to be on unemployment for a long time then file for disability then back date it. I just tried to find a job I could do with my limitations, but came to a realization from talking to my counselor that there really isn’t anything I can successfully do since I’ve had significant problems at every job I’ve had due to my medical problems. Which my medical problems cost me to lose several jobs because I needed accommodations that the employer used as a reason to let me go. So, I figured it is in my best interest to file for disability instead of keep going through the process of losing jobs over and over.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Hi Betty. Good luck on the application! I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

    • Terri

      Allsup is great to work with.

  • Telly

    How do you find out how many work credits you have? I’m at the 10 year mark. So, it is close and I don’t know if I was earning enough 10 years ago to be getting credits at that time. I called the SSA, and they said I have enough credits. But didn’t tell me how many credits I have. Just afraid of relying on this info and later find out I don’t have enough credits.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      If the agency says you have enough credits, what more do you want? :)

      Sure you can get a form from SSA the spells out your credits. And the annual Social Security Statement also says if you are eligible for SSA disability benefits. However, if SSA says you’re good on credits…

      • Telly

        Because when I talked to them about my credits. I asked if I had enough time in. And they said I had to have worked 5 out of the past 10 years. So, I told her the last date I worked. And she said I had 5 years from that date to file if I become disabled after my last day I worked. Then I found out it is different from what I can tell. I figure if they gave me wrong info on when I needed to file by and what kind of time I needed. Then they may have told me wrong on my work credits.

        This is what I’ve read on the time I need:

        ”¢Age 24 to 31–You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).

        Ok, I just looked at that paper the SSA gives you every year. And it does say I have earned enough credits to quality for benefits. So, I guess all I have to do is make sure I have enough recent work to qualify. I tried figuring it up. And I believe I’m good for a couple more years if my date of onset was moved to a few years from now and I didn’t work in that time.

        I just got worried after learning that 5 out of 10 I was going by doesn’t apply to me. But I think I’m still good as if the judge moved my date of onset to after my unemployment runs out. I should still be able to qualify if that happens.

        • TomaszStasiuk

          Ah, so you are thinking of waiting to apply for benefits until your UI runs out.

          Any individual thinking of waiting to apply for benefits, should keep this in mind:

          • Telly

            I’m not waiting to apply when my UI runs out. I was looking for full time work for a long while. But realized I can’t find anything as I have multiple disabilities. So, I started looking for part time work and have been working on my case. As I have to try and recall what doctors I’ve seen for 10+ years regarding my disabilities. And I have to try and write up how each of my disabilities prevents me from working. Which will be kinda hard. Plus, I’m looking for a Dis. Rep. or attorney to sign up with to help me file and tell the SSA how my disabilities keep me from gainful work.

            I plan to put my date of onset shortly after I last worked. Which was a couple of years ago.

          • TomaszStasiuk

            Ok. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • Telly

    Actually, I’m not sure how the work credits work. I had read you need 40 credits. And have had to have worked 5 out of the past 10 years to qualify for SSDI. Then I read the credits go by how old you are at the time you couldn’t work anymore. So for me it would be:

    ”¢Age 24 to 31–You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).

    • Daniel Williams

      I worked full time in 2006,2007, 2008, and until may 10th of 2009. Then got laid off and was on unemployment with extensions until november 7th of 2010, and had a mild stroke and heart attack and could not work after that. When i applied for ssi they told me i was 4 credits short of the 20 i needed because when i was on unemployment i could not earn those 4 credits i needed to qualify for my regular ssi disability. i also do not qualify for supplement ssi because my wifes gross pay per month is right at 3000.00 a month. So because i was on unemployment for 1 of the previous 5 years i lost all my ssi cash benefits which would have been 1500.00 a month.

  • Telly

    Forgot one other thing. Can you recommend a Disability Representative? I was going to look for an attorney. But I do know they charge 1/3 of your back pay. Which is alot. And you also wonder how much they help you in applying for disability. As I’ve been told most attorneys won’t touch your case until you’ve been denied once or twice. So, I kinda wondered how helpful they would be at the start of your case if you found one to take it. As they make their money with your claim dragging out by getting denied. I’d like to present the best case possible at the time of filing so I can hopefully get approved the first time.

    Then I read about Disability Representatives. Who help you file your case and talk to the SSDI to keep you from saying the wrong thing, and I believe they don’t charge anything. So, I figured that would be better than getting an attorney and hoping they do something instead of after you’ve been denied. But I’m not sure which Disability Representative group to use. As I don’t want to get scammed or get a bad Representative who drops the ball.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      I understand not wanting to overpay:

      However, no one charges 33%. See

      Anyone who wants to charge for services on a Social Security case has to get approval from Social Secuirty. A-N-Y-O-N-E. That is from charging you $50 to fill out a form for you, to working up your entire Social security case under a contingent fee agreement.

      Disability Representatives don’t charge a thing? Really? There are agencies, like Legal Aid, that assist people for no charge. However, many disability reps are offering the same services lawyers offer for the same price. If you think that’s a good deal, consider this:

      • Telly

        Yeah, I later read about Disability Reps charging you like an attorney. There was a page I was on that helped people file for disability. And they talked about using volunteers.

        The Disability Rep I’ve read about that seems to be 100% invested in SSDI claims is Allsup.

        I saw your blog and it seems you prefer using attorneys vs. Disability Reps. Which I can understand. The one problem is alot of them don’t help you till after you have been denied once or twice. So, I’m not sure how many lawyers would help you actually file your claim and gather your medical documentation and explain your impairments to the SSA when you file. Where as the Disability Reps advertise they help you file and gather your medical records. I would need help filing my claim vs. doing it myself.

        I think the Disability Rep helping you file, gather your medical records to review, and help presenting your case to the SSA at the start would help get your case approved quicker than doing it yourself and messing up. Though, there may be lawyer groups out there who do that from the start. But someone I talked to in a clinic who has delt with people filing for disability say the lawyers usually don’t touch cases till after you’ve been denied twice.

        • TomaszStasiuk

          Some attorneys (like my office) help file claims, some others do not. As with any kind of shopping around, you have to ask.

          You mention volunteers helping people apply. I am not sure if you are suggesting Allsup is free. However, according to their own website, they are not: As far as I can tell, it is the same 25% up to $6k fee structure many attorneys use.

          I’ll tell you, they have a pretty website and a slick sales pitch. Personally, as a practitioner in this area, I am not wild about national practices. Take a look at this post and particularly Nate Craig’s comment at the bottom.

          Ultimately, you have to go with your gut, and I can tell you are leaning toward using a non-attorney rep. I wish you the very best and hope you win your case.

          • Telly

            I was referring to a different place that is free. It was just the first website I came across that mentioned using volunteers to help you file your claim. I later found out the reps like Allsup charge. But I’m looking at either attorneys or something like Allsup to help file my claim.

            Do you have any recommendation for a non-attorney Disability Rep that helps you from the beginning? I haven’t even come across attorneys who help you file your case.

          • TomaszStasiuk

            I don’t know anyone that I can recommend. I have a number of articles about picking a lawyer. These include some suggestions on the questions to ask and which to avoid.


            All my best!

          • Telly

            Is there different compensation arrangements attorneys or DA’s do if you win your case on your first try? i.e. I know they can get up to 25%/$6k max fee of your back pay if you win your case. But I’ve read some people reporting there are some agreements where an attorney will charge you X amount if you win on your first try. And then if it goes beyond that, you get charged the standard 25%/$6k max fee.

            I’d be filing my date of onset around a couple of years ago. And I’ve got pretty good documentation on my disabilities and impairments that have been going on for some time before and after that date. And I’ve got paperwork from before and after that date that shows that my activities of daily living are low, my impairments are severe and expected to last longer than one year, etc. So, I feel I have a pretty good case to win on the first try with my documentation. But I’d just hate to get approved the first try after a few months and the attorney or DA gets $6k for simply filing my SSDI application with the SSA.

          • TomaszStasiuk

            Social Security only permits 2 fee structures: 1) 25% up to 6k contingent, or 2) fee petition

            You can check it out directly on the SSA website:

            Theoretically, a representative can ask for a “33%.” However, that means they would have to file a fee petition which SSA has to approve before they take any money as fees.

          • Telly

            Ok. Whoever I sign up with. I’ll see if they will do two payment structures. The first would be a structure if I get approved the first time. As I’ve read places like Allsup have something like this. I’ve read of them just charging $750 if you get approved the first time.
            As that means they wouldn’t have done much work compared to going all the way through one or two appeals before a judge.

            And the other would be a structure if I have to go through appeals. Which usually is the 25% of you back payment.

            I’ve got good documentation that I think I have a good chance getting approved the first time around and would hate to have paid someone $6k just for filing my application with SSDI.

          • Declan Gourley

            Allsup are not attorneys and because of this they do not have an attorney-client privilege. I had a client recently who had a long term disability carrier require that he file for SSD benefits. They then steered him towards Allsup, making it sound like they were the only firm willing to do these types of cases on contingency. Throughout the process the Allsup reps would be providing all of his medical records to the LTD carrier. The LTD carrier then used these med records to deny him LTD benefits. Absolutely ridiculous. Just another reason why I recommend using an attorney rather than non-attorney rep.

  • Tlwilkerson

    if you are over 56 and can’t do the work you have always done , you can receive unemployment payments. Unemployment  standard is that you are able to do something, anything. Social security if you are over 56 standard is that if you can not do what you have been doing and have no other traing you are eligible for disability

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Take a look at


      2) Cased below 50:

      3) Cases above 50:

  • Paula Berube

    I have been receiving unemployment benefits since February 2011 and had an appointment with Disability two days after I was laid off. The woman I spoke with at the disability office told me to keep filing for unemployment while waiting for a response from disability office. Will I have to repay my unemployment benefits back. I live in Connecticut. I’m not too happy about this situation I’m in and I’m an honest person I will pay back what I owe if necessary. I don’t want to contact the unemployment office in fear of going to court. Please help if you can.

  • BRM

    i started receiving unemployment the middle of 08 and it  ended the  end of 10 i filed  a disability claim  in the middle of 10.I have a date with a judge in 6 days,do you think this will affect the outcome of my case????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • danielshelley_

      hi, im curious to know what happened for you..what did alj say?

  • Bob

    If you were on unemployment and filed for SSDI. You then get approved for SSDI. Can you still draw on the unemployment, or should you stop calling? It is my understanding you can be on SSDI and earn below $720 without affecting your benefits. So I assume you could still draw unemployment since you can still work while on SSDI. Though my unemployment would be more than $720, so unsure if that would affect anything?

  • Dianelewis1927


  • Therese

    I will recieved disability back payments for 10 months that I recieved unemployment ,do I need to pay that bak?

  • Theresr

    I will recieved disability back pay for ten months I recieved unemployment do I need to pay that back, of so how much

  • Triciabjornstad

    I have been on Dissabilty for 9 months. My dissability ends in April.  I am going to have to apply for Unemployment but what income do they use to determine unemployment benefits?Please help I am soooo lost. I want to go to school full time or I would return to the work force.

    • jk

      I was in the exact same situation and they still go by what you made at your employer using i believe the highest amounts within so many quarters, not the amount of your disability. I was worried about that too but dont worry. Now I live in california and that is how they determined my unemployment claim amount here. Good luck…

  • nativenyer

    I was on unemployment and had to ammend my date to a month after my last unemployment check, the Judge said you better go outside and talk to your rep before making this decison because your benefits will go down considerably, my rep said amend the date or she might drop your case, I was like wait, but she said, and the woman said do it trust me. Well, I regret it now because I think the Judge was saying I will grant it but it’s up to you if you feel you should. so it’s not a clear cut answer whether you can get back pay or not on that time of unemp. collecting. I’m kicking myself now, I should have done it. You can always appeal if denied, but I was so desperate, sad but true story. I at least won the case and for that I will be grateful ten fold. I payed back PA, it hurt but it is what it is, we must cut our losses and move on and hang in there. Easier said then done

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  • sincerely

    Well, I know someone who is partially disabled but cannot work without severe pain, so she needs to have an income while seeking work, but really needs to determine if unable to work. Since she has no other income, she can’t risk no income to get disability denied. I wonder how she would be able to keep unemployment only until disability is accepted. She already tried twice and knows the risk may only jeapordize her income more. And is now needing to move but afraid of no income, if she tries for disability while on umployment and cannot move. How would she go about applying without risk of loss of both?

    • lulu99

      That’s a hard question to answer, but if I were here I would try to get advice though the social security . org website and also check out this guy on youtube. He is a disability Attorney that gives advice on folks sending letters to him and does videos. He was helpful to me with no cost. He is a rare dude. His channel name is : Anthony Reeves. Type that in the youtube search and she might be amazed the info she can get out of his videos. I was in that position and it was frightening and to win the case after an initial denial was a shock to me. If she has not applied yet, honestly they most likely will deny her right away than she has to apply for a hearing etc. I hope something works out for her. She might need to borrow some money to tied her through.

      • TomaszStasiuk

        Yup. Anthony is a great resource and he does a lot of videos. My take on the question is that there is no guarantee. Anyone who promises you an outcome is blowing smoke. As noted in the post, unemployment benefits often causes problems in Social Security disability cases. I have had cases where it has not been an issue, but it has depended on the judge’s attitude; which is something out of the control of any representative. Hence, the risk is always there. Disability cases are a bit like skydiving, you can’t jump and stay in the safety of the plane at the same time. If a person decides to try for disability, it will often take 4-6 months (if approved at the initial stage) or over a year (if the case has to go to hearing) and there is no guarantee of winning. If a person continues to get unemployment during that time (stating they are able to work), the judge may view that as being inconsistent with the claim to Social Security that they cannot work. That’s the risk.

        I understand the need to keep money coming in. You can’t live on nothing for 6 months to a year or more. So, I understand getting unemployment while pursuing Social Security disability. But, can you eliminate the risk of unemployment affecting the disability case? No.

  • Rhonda 2.0

    My husband was disabled because of complications from colon cancer, he has been getting SSD ever since.He had a seasonal position offered to him simply driving a truck for about 6 weeks. He talked both to his lawyer and SSD and they said he can make as much as he wants for 9 months and after that around 1000.00 a month. He is still able to collect his SSD and pension and if he wants the above……he only worked 5weeks. But made quit a profit. It was tough though and he had to take off every now and then because of the disabily issues. He could never work full time and support his family.

  • Tamika C.

    i applied for disability in January 2014, and was denied. I just recently went to my hearing in February of the year and was denied again. My reps said that the judge didn’t give any good reason why she didn’t agree with my doctors and the doctor social security assigned to review my records. Therefore, another appeal was filed for the appeals council. I am down to no money or resources to maintain. Can I collect my unemployment from when i worked in 2014, please help with a response.