The answer to this question depends on several factors that will vary from individual to individual. The law in your home state, the income you may earn, and the number of hours you work will all have an impact on whether you can collect unemployment if you are terminated while still on disability.
In this blog article, we explain in detail all of the particulars you need to know to find out if your situation is such that you can collect unemployment if terminated from a job while you are on disability.
Sackett and Associates Disability Law Firm law practice focuses on helping people with disabilities get all of the available government benefits to which they are entitled. Many people with disabilities don’t know that they do qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, workers compensation, or unemployment benefits.
Sackett and Associates is the disability law firm for all disability law topics in northern California and around the country. If you have questions about your eligibility for disability benefits, get in touch with us today. We can provide you with all the information you need to understand if you are eligible and how we can help you claim the benefits you deserve.
Unemployment Benefits Explained
Unemployment benefits are paid by each state to people who have lost their jobs or been laid off due to factors unrelated to misconduct connected to your job.
While each state drafts its own laws setting out the qualifications for unemployment benefits, most states generally make unemployment support available to those workers who qualify because they earned a minimum amount of wages during each quarter of the previous 12 to 15 months, or those who work a minimum number of hours each week.
The important feature of both unemployment benefits and SSDI benefits is that they are intended to compensate you with a percentage of the wages you lost by not working. In this respect, unemployment benefits serve a similar purpose to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) benefits.
One important key requirement for those seeking unemployment benefits is that they must certify that they are able and available for work immediately. Some states also require that unemployment recipients document the efforts they make to find a job each week.
Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) Explained
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) is a federally administered program that pays financial benefits to workers who have become disabled by either injury or illness and who have a long employment history over the course of their lives. The program only pays for long-term disabilities because the federal government defines a disability as follows:
A physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months and which prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities (SGAs).
The term “substantial gainful activities” translates means your ability to earn a minimum amount or income each month. In 2024, if a SSDI applicant can earn more than $1,550 per month of countable income by performing work, they will be deemed ineligible for SSDI benefits.
If an SSDI applicant or recipient cannot earn more than $1,550 per month, and they otherwise qualify for SSDI benefits, then they can receive SSDI benefits.
Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits
Because SSDI benefits are reserved only for people whose long-term disability prevents them from working, it may seem odd that someone can work and still collect SSDI benefits.
But there are special features in the SSDI program that allow SSDI benefits recipients to earn some money by working without losing their benefits:
Trial Work Periods
Trial Work Periods (TWP) is a program established to encourage SSDI recipients whose impaired condition may have improved significantly to try returning to work without risking the loss of their benefits. In the past, many people avoided attempting to return to work for fear that they would jeopardize their SSDI benefits if working did not prove feasible.
Now, with the TWP program, an SSDI recipient may work nine months within a five-year period and earn an unlimited amount of income while continuing to collect monthly SSDI benefits. The nine months need not be consecutive; they may be spread over the five years if necessary.
Extended Periods of Eligibility (EPE)
Following the completion of the nine months worked in the TWP program, a worker on SSDI can continue to work. For any month during the EPE period in which the worker makes less than the SGA cap ($1,150 in 2024), they will be eligible for their full SSDI benefit. The EPE lasts for 36 months after the end of the TWP period.
Who Can Collect Unemployment Benefits While Receiving SSDI?
There is an obvious contradiction between claiming you are unable to work due to a disability and also claiming you are able and available to work to collect unemployment benefits.
However, in some cases, circumstances can allow a person to receive both SSDI and unemployment benefits. The keys to determining whether you can receive both SSDI and unemployment benefits are the following:
- State of Residence: First, let’s discuss the significance of your state of residence. Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are state-run programs with their own individual sets of laws and rules. Eligibility may be limited to only full-time workers and eligibility may also require that the UI applicant was earning at least a minimum income during a set number of previous months.
- The Amount of Your SSDI Benefits: The amount of each worker’s monthly SSDI benefits is determined by a number of factors, most importantly by the amount of income they paid taxes on over the course of more than ten years of employment. Remember that the amount of UI benefits someone may receive depends on the amount of their usual wages.