Frequently, clients will come to our initial meeting and advise our firm that they are receiving unemployment compensation benefits while they are pursuing a Social Security disability claim. Technically, an applicant may collect unemployment benefits and still pursue a Social Security disability claim, however, this may have serious consequences to the applicant s disability claim.
When an applicant applies for unemployment compensation benefits, the applicant must affirm that they are ready, willing and able to work. Some Social Security Administrative Law Judge s (ALJ s) view this affirmation as an admission that the applicant is not disabled. ALJs have used the term fraud when describing an applicant s actions while pursuing both claims at the same time.
However, there also needs to be a realistic review of the situation. In most circumstances, it takes an applicant well over a year before they finally receive Social Security disability benefits. Naturally, most people cannot survive a year without an income and they seek any benefit that is available to them. Some ALJs recognize the applicant s need to have an income while they are pursuing a Social Security disability claim and will not penalize the applicant for this pursuit.
A typical remedy to this situation is to amend the pending Social Security disability application at the time of the hearing before the ALJ. In a Social Security disability application, the applicant must allege a date when they became disabled. In most cases, the alleged onset date of disability is the date when the applicant stopped working. Most ALJs will ask that the applicant amend the alleged onset date to the day after the applicant stopped receiving unemployment benefits. This amendment limits the past due benefits owed to the applicant, but reconciles the conflict between the definition of disability and the affirmation required when applying for unemployment benefits.