Unemployment and Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability or SSI claimants often wonder whether they can receive unemployment and still apply for and be awarded Social Security Disability. A person receiving unemployment must have affirmed that he is able to work and, often, that he is actively seeking work. The question then becomes is whether the claimant’s statement about his ability to work is an automatic bar to the receipt of disability benefits.

In November of 2006, the Chief Judge sent a memorandum to Regional Chief Judges reminding ALJs that the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not preclude the receipt of Social Security Disability benefits. The memorandum directed ALJs to be mindful of the principles contained in SSR 00-1c and Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp.  In that case the Supreme Court held that a claim for SSDI is often consistent with a claim for relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act because under the presumptions contained in the five-step sequential evaluation process, a person can qualify for SSDI even though he or she remains capable of performing some work.

In 1993, a reminder was sent to the ALJs stating:

An ALJ may consider a claimant’s receipt of unemployment compensation, as well as any statement the claimant may have made in connection with the unemployment compensation claim (e.g. a claimant’s statement that he or she was able to work), when evaluation the claimant’s credibility. However, the ALJ may not base his or her decision solely on those factors. The ALJ’s decision must reflect a fair and impartial consideration of all of the evidence in the claimant’s record, and ALJ’s findings and conclusions must be supported by the evidence.

Some courts have found that unemployment is some, but not conclusive, evidence to preclude a claim of disability though an application for unemployment benefits adversely affects the claimant’s credibility. However, other courts have held that receipt of unemployment does not mean that a claimant can work because a claimant’s desire to work does not mean she is actually able to work.

If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.




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