Because it can take a long time to collect SSDI benefits, many individuals turn to other sources of income as a means of support. One source of income is unemployment benefits.
Each state administers its own Unemployment Insurance program. In California, the Unemployment Development Department (EDD) pays benefits to workers who lost their job and meet the program’s eligibility requirements. One requirement of the program is a certification that the unemployed worker is able to work.
The Social Security Administration requires that you are unable to work full-time at a substantial gainful level to obtain SSDI benefits. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount is ordinarily considered to be working at the substantial gainful level. In 2020, the monthly substantial gainful activity amount is $1,260.00 for non-blind individuals.
Although these two programs seem to conflict, technically, a claimant can collect both unemployment benefits and SSDI benefits. If you feel that you may be able to work at a job that generates less than $1,260.00 per month in income, you may apply for both unemployment and SSDI benefits.
But we advise you to proceed with caution. While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that obtaining unemployment benefits for part-time work is not necessarily inconsistent with claims for Social Security disability, they have also said that the “continued receipt of unemployment benefits does cast doubt on a claim of disability.” If you stop work due to a injury or illness, you should look into state disability (SDI) benefits administered through EDD.
When applying for both unemployment benefits and SSDI benefits, it is important to be honest. A claimant should not try to hide the fact they are actively pursuing financial assistance from both programs. The judge will have access to unemployment and state disability records at your disability hearing. If you have any doubts about how unemployment benefits impact your SSDI claim, you should contact a representative at the LaPorte Law Firm for a free consultation.