By Ashley Marks

Many people have asked us: “Can I collect unemployment benefits while I wait for my disability hearing?”

While the receipt of unemployment benefits does not necessarily stop you from being awarded disability, it is a factor that will be taken into consideration by the Judge in the deciding whether you are disabled.

The issue stems from the fact that, in Indiana, when requesting unemployment benefits you sign declaring that you are willing and able to participate in employment. When you sign up for disability benefits, you are declaring that you are not able to participate in full-time employment due to your health conditions. Judges do take this inconsistently into consideration.

In some cases, the Judges react badly when an individual is claiming both unemployment benefits and disability benefits, and use this inconsistency as evidence to support denying you claim for disability. Even if the Judge decides in your favor, judges refuse to award back-pay disability benefits during any time period that you were receiving unemployment benefits. This is important because the total amount of the back-pay you could have potentially received may be larger than the amount you obtained through unemployment benefits.

In short, filing for unemployment and disability benefits is generally not a good idea. However, if unemployment benefits are the only way you have to make ends meet, it is not necessarily the end of your Social Security Disability case. If you have received unemployment during the time period you are alleging disability, it is important you let your attorney know this at your hearing preparation. We can help prepare you for how to best answer the Judge’s questions regarding the issue.