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Does Collecting Unemployment Disqualify Me From Seeking Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Denied Social Security Benefits

Chicago Social Security disability benefits lawyerApplying for Social Security Disability Insurance is not a quick or simple process. It often takes an applicant years to start receiving disability benefits. For someone who is physically or mentally unable to work, this extended waiting period can prove to be a significant financial hardship. Some applicants may even try looking for work or filing for unemployment benefits just to try and make ends meet while the Social Security Administration considers their case. But can such actions actually hurt their case for disability benefits?

Social Security Must Reconsider Applicant’s Financial Situation

In a recent case from here in Illinois, Social Security officials cited an applicant’s decision to seek and collect unemployment benefits as evidence that she lacked credibility. Based in large part on this credibility determination, Social Security denied her claim for disability benefits. But on appeal, a federal magistrate reversed that decision and ordered Social Security to reconsider the applicant’s case.

The applicant formerly worked as a bank teller. She suffers from a number of medical impairments, including lupus, arthritis, and heart disease. After the alleged onset of her disability, she continued to for a few weeks in a data entry job. When she was fired from that job, she filed for and received unemployment benefits for the next two years. During this time she also continued to look for a new job without success.

The magistrate held that while Social Security may “give some consideration” to the applicant’s decision to file for unemployment benefits in assessing her credibility, the agency must look at all of the facts and circumstances before dismissing her disability claims outright. For example, an applicant with no other source of income may be forced to apply for unemployment benefits, or even seek work despite a disabling medical condition, in order to have enough money to pay for day-to-day expenses. With respect to this case, the magistrate noted that the applicant was clearly experiencing “financial difficulty,” given that both her and her husband had lost their jobs, and the husband was facing extensive medical bills due to cancer treatment. Yet Social Security “made no attempt” to ascertain the applicant’s financial situation before using her decision to seek unemployment benefits as grounds for deciding she was not disabled.

Even the applicant’s decision to seek additional work after the alleged onset of disability was not fatal to her claim, the magistrate said. The magistrate explained it was possible the applicant was simply unaware of the severity of her disability when she applied for work. And in any event, “she never received a phone call from potential employers and was never successful at securing a job.”

A Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help

Financial hardship should never be used as an excuse to deny a valid Social Security Disability insurance claim. An experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer can help you with explaining your situation to Social Security—and if necessary a federal judge—in order to ensure your claim is not wrongfully denied. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, to speak with an attorney right away about your case.



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