If you struggle with an ongoing disability, you may be unable to work and earn an income as you normally would. If you find yourself in that situation, you may be collecting disability benefits, either through a private or employer-funded disability policy or from the Social Security Administration. In some cases, individuals receiving disability benefits retain their job in case they can return to work – at least for a while. But what happens if you are terminated? Can you collect unemployment benefits and disability benefits at the same time?
This is a question we are often asked – and it’s completely understandable. After all, both disability and unemployment benefits can be tremendous financial help for those who cannot work and lose their jobs. However, depending on how long your disability lasts, the nature of your job, and various other circumstances, you may lose your job while out on disability. If this happens, it is essential to understand your options and what might happen to your various types of benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the law surrounding these issues together.
A Closer Look at the Criteria for Benefits
At the outset, the short answer to the question of whether both types of benefits can be collected simultaneously is, unfortunately, no.
Although different technical aspects of the law can vary from state to state, one thing that is consistent in unemployment law across all 50 states is that an individual receiving unemployment benefits must be physically able to work and actively looking for a job. As a result, by their very nature, unemployment benefits are generally inconsistent with disability benefits. After all, those receiving Social Security disability benefits must have been unable to work for at least one calendar year or more as a condition of receiving those benefits.
In certain circumstances, however, an individual may be out of work on only short-term disability for an illness or injury that will heal fairly quickly within a matter of months. In that case, an individual may be receiving short-term disability benefits through either a privately held or employer-funded policy. If this is the situation, those receiving short-term disability benefits will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits upon recovering from the temporary condition.
In other cases, where a disability lasts longer, the possibility of being able to collect both types of benefits is low. However, you still have legal protections available. The good news is that federal and state laws are in place to protect those who receive disability benefits from losing their jobs. These protections have limits, however.
Is Your Job Protected When You’re Disabled?
If you are terminated while on disability leave, the termination may have been reasonable and necessary. In certain circumstances, an employer can’t keep a job unfilled for an indefinite time, and it may become apparent that an employee will not be able to return to work soon – or at all. In other cases, however, terminations do violate the law. If you have been terminated while on disability, you may want to investigate the possibility that your employer violated your rights. Certain federal and state return-to-work laws offer protections that may apply to your situation.
One example is the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA is a federal return-to-work law that provides protections for those employees who have a temporary disability by offering up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protection for eligible employees that work for covered employers. The Americans with Disabilities Act also provides certain protections to disabled employees on leave. Consulting with an attorney as to whether or not any of these legal protections may apply to your particular situation is always advised.
Ultimately, as with any legal matter, the law surrounding both disability benefits and unemployment benefits can be complex. Each individual is unique, and no two circumstances will be the same. As a result, if you have questions about your particular situation, it is always advised to consult with an attorney who knows and understands the law and can provide guidance regarding your unique situation. At Liner Legal, we are here to help.
Liner Legal – Your Disability Lawyers
At Liner Legal, we understand the law surrounding disability benefits. In fact, it’s our specialty. Regardless of the issue that you’re dealing with, our talented and experienced legal team is here to help. We are passionate about helping every client fight for the benefits they need and deserve, and we would be honored to help you too. If you are disabled and need financial help, there’s no day like today to get started. Give us a call. We look forward to speaking with you soon.