If you can’t work, you might wonder whether it is possible for you to get unemployment benefits and disability simultaneously. This is rarely possible. However, there are certain situations in which receiving both unemployment and disability benefits might be possible and allowed. Here is what you need to know from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
To receive unemployment benefits in New Jersey, you typically must claim that you are available and able to work. When you apply for unemployment benefits after losing your job, you will be asked whether you are able and available to work. Before you can obtain unemployment, you must be considered to be available and ready to work and must have lost your job through no fault of your own. This requirement for unemployment eligibility might seem to be in direct conflict with the rules for disability.
Disability Benefits Eligibility
Whether you are applying for short-term or long-term disability or Social Security disability, you will be required to state that you are unable to return to your job. Some short- and long-term disability policies allow their insureds to claim that they are unable to return to their specific jobs, but other policies require people to claim that they are unable to work at any type of job. If your short- or long-term disability policy requires you to be unable to return to any type of job, you likely won’t be able to recover disability benefits under your policy at the same time that you collect unemployment. Social Security disability will allow you to work a little, but you will be excluded if you have substantial gainful employment. If you can no longer work at your job or can only work a few hours per week, you might still qualify for disability benefits. An attorney can review your policy and help you understand whether you might be eligible.
What Situations Allow You to Get Unemployment at the Same Time as Disability?
There are a few situations under which you might be eligible for both disability and unemployment. Whether or not one of these situations might apply to you will depend on your circumstances. An attorney can help you understand whether you might be eligible for any of these options.
Ticket to Work through SSDI
If you are a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and want to try working, you can go through the Ticket to Work Program through the Social Security Administration. The Ticket to Work program allows SSDI recipients to work for nine months while keeping their SSDI benefits. If you work for six months but are then laid off from your job, you can collect unemployment benefits at the same time as you receive SSDI payments.
Over 50 Meeting Grid Rule Requirements
If you are older than 50 and have a disability that prevents you from working in jobs other than those that are sedentary, you might be able to collect unemployment while you are looking for sedentary work while also remaining eligible for disability. However, if you are still capable of performing the tasks required by your former job, you could be denied disability benefits.
Older Than 55 Meeting Grid Rule Requirements
If you are older than 55 and can only perform light work, you might remain eligible for SSDI and unemployment if you are looking for light work jobs.
Having a Disability on the SSA’s Disability Impairment Listing
If you have a disability that meets the requirements of the SSA’s disability impairment listing, the Social Security Administration will presume that you cannot work. You won’t have to prove that you can’t work to be eligible for SSDI. While this might allow you to collect disability benefits and unemployment at the same time, you would need to clearly explain your situation to both the federal and state governments to avoid potential legal problems.
Looking for Work Within Your Disability’s Limitations
If you receive disability benefits and are searching for jobs that fit the limitations of your disability, you might be able to collect unemployment benefits. You might also be able to collect both types of benefits if you only look for jobs for which an employer would have to make accommodations for you that most will not be willing to make.
No matter what, you must be honest. If you make misrepresentations when you apply for unemployment or disability benefits, you could face legal consequences. Do not conceal anything that might be relevant when you apply for benefits. If you are charged with unemployment or disability fraud, you could face substantial civil penalties and potential criminal liability. You might end up with a felony on your record, face a years-long prison sentence, be forced to pay heavy fines, and be ordered to reimburse the state or federal government for benefits you received for which you were not entitled.
Get Help From Swartz Swidler
If you recently lost your job and are eligible for unemployment benefits but also want to pursue disability benefits, you need to be careful not to violate the law. It is a good idea for you to consult an experienced employment attorney at Swartz Swidler to ensure that you understand the rules and avoid violating them. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling us at (856) 685-7420.