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Am I Ineligible for Disability If I Have Filed for Unemployment Benefits?

 Posted on February 23, 2016 in Need to Apply for Social Security Disability

unemployment, Chicago Social Security Disability AttorneyUnemployment insurance is designed to provide temporary benefits to people who are currently out of work but still looking for a job. In contrast, Social Security Disability Insurance provides for individuals who are no longer able to work due to one or more medical impairments. While these are distinct benefit programs, there are cases where a person may initially apply for unemployment but later seek disability benefits. Social Security officials often look at this as evidence an applicant is not really disabled, but courts in Illinois have cautioned this is often an erroneous conclusion.

Social Security Failed to Consider “Progressive” Nature of Applicant's Disabilities

Here is a recent example. A man applied for Social Security Disability benefits, citing among other impairments, “stiffness and pain in his shoulders, knees, hands, and lower back, as well as prostate cancer.” A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) denied the application, in large part due to her finding the applicant's testimony regarding his impairments were “not credible.” The applicant appealed the ALJ's decision.

An Illinois federal magistrate agreed the applicant was entitled to a new hearing. One reason was the ALJ unfairly jumped to conclusions based on the fact the applicant had sought unemployment benefits after the alleged onset date of his disability. The ALJ noted only persons who “are capable of working” are eligible for unemployment; therefore, the applicant must not have been disabled at the time.

The magistrate disagreed with this reasoning. In this case, the applicant testified his impairments were getting progressively worse—that is, his pain was manageable initially but later became “more frequent and more consistent.” The ALJ had a duty to consider this progression but failed to do so, the magistrate said.

The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees all disability cases from Illinois, has clearly said in past cases that Social Security must exercise “significant care and circumspection” before declaring an applicant lacks credibility simply due to the fact he also sought unemployment benefits. The appeals court has said in assessing individuals with progressive medical conditions, “it is especially possible that an applicant might, at the early stages of the disease's manifestations, be unsure of the limits of his physical capabilities and only later determine that his inability to work was due to the fact that the physical toll taken by the disease was greater than he had thought.”

Get Help from a Chicago Disability Lawyer

There are many reasons Social Security may deny your initial application for disability benefits. Many of them are not valid and will not stand up to independent judicial scrutiny. That is why it is especially important not to pursue a claim without the assistance of an experienced Chicago Social Security Disability attorney. Contact the attorneys at Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today if you need to speak with someone about your case as soon as possible.




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