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Can You Get Unemployment and Disability at the Same Time?
15November 18

Can You Get Unemployment and Disability at the Same Time?

Can You Get Unemployment and DisabilityIf you’re injured and unemployed, can you get unemployment and disability at the same time? Rarely, though it’s worth trying.

Let’s look at how the system works, so you can better understand how disability works as opposed to unemployment — and how sometimes, they can both work to your benefit. To learn more, contact Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C. today.

The Problem With Applying for Both Unemployment and LTD

This system is deliberately arranged so the two programs have very little overlap. Usually, you can get one or the other, but not both. Why? It all comes down to this: the agencies involved will ask themselves the question, “If you’re truly disabled, then how can you work?” They would prefer to give you disability if you can’t hold down a job.

Meanwhile, unemployment is for people willing and able to work who’ve lost existing jobs, through no fault of their own. To qualify, you must prove you’re capable of working full- or part-time and willing to do so. That sets up a contradiction if you have a disability.

Are There Exceptions?

That said, sometimes it’s worth asking, can you get unemployment and disability at the same time? It’s rare, but it can happen in specific and limited circumstances. This is one the things we’ll discuss below.

Why It’s Tough to Get Both at the Same Time

Disability carriers, being insurance companies, always avoid having to pay out benefits if they can. If they discover you’ve applied for unemployment (and they will) they’ll use that application against you. They will assume you can work and want to. Something similar is true for the agencies that handle unemployment. In most cases, they’ll tell you that filing for both types of compensation is contradictory — that you either can work, or you can’t. If you try filing for both, the authorities on one side or both will accuse you of lacking credibility.

But real life is rarely that clear-cut. It’s possible you have special circumstances that allow you to file for both legitimately, so you’ll have to educate them.

So When Can You Get Unemployment and Disability?

Only rarely and not easily for the states we serve, New Jersey and New York. It’s remotely possible to get unemployment and long-term disability (LTD) both if you lose your job due to the disability, depending on (a) your state of residence; and (b) how broadly your policy defines the term “disability.”

In some states, you can claim both if you have an “own occupation” policy or some hybrid of an “own occupation” and “any occupation.” Your “own occupation” is the one you trained for. If you trained specifically to be a police officer, a plumber, or a machinist, for example, that’s your own occupation. If you lost your job because you can no longer perform your duties due to illness or injury, you have a shot at receiving unemployment benefits and LTD benefits. This is true even if you can still work in another job.

Disability During Employment Benefits

Can you get unemployment and disability if your policy provides for partial disability benefits? Possibly. New Jersey allows for Disability During Unemployment if you are ill or disabled for more than two weeks and meet a few other requirements. However, they charge it against your unemployment benefits. The maximum benefit you can receive is one and one-half times the maximum benefit on your claim, with a minor dependent allowance of 7% per dependent. DDU (also called 4F) is meant to be temporary, however.

In New York State the law is pretty blunt: you cannot collect short-term disability and unemployment at the same time. It’s one or the other. However, you can collect worker’s compensation and unemployment at the same time if you qualify.

What Is the Offset Penalty?

Even if you do get long-term disability, you probably won’t get all you’re owed because “offsets” in LTD policies lower your payment if you also get:

  • unemployment,
  • Social Security disability,
  • workers’ compensation, or even
  • a settlement from a third party.

They almost always deduct the other benefit from your LTD benefits so you end up with the same amount of money either way.

Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether you can get unemployment and disability at the same time is “maybe.” You can try if you think you qualify, but we recommend getting legal help.

Can You Get Unemployment and Disability? Possibly, With the Right Lawyer

You need an experienced disability benefits lawyer to help you untangle this mess. At Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C., we help the injured and disabled get the benefits they need. Contact us for a free consultation. We may be able to help.

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