SSDI Claimants Collecting Unemployment Targeted by H.R. 1502

If you are attempting to claim Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and are also collecting unemployment, you may have a tough time being approved for the former – which is why our Boston SSDI lawyers don’t advise it.
That has been the case for some time.

But now, the law may actually change to legally bar you from collecting both.

With the introduction of H.R. 1502, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) made it clear that he intends to eliminate the possibility that one could get both.

With the Social Security Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act, Johnson said he hopes to initiate what he calls “common sense” legislation. The measure seems likely to gain significant support on both sides of the aisle, as a similar proposal was recently introduced as part of President Barack Obama’s FY2014 budget plan. The president’s plan estimated that over the course of 10 years, the measure would save an estimated $1 billion.

While the bill has a noble intention in that it seeks to eliminate waste and contribute to the overall preservation of the SSDI program, it may not be truly necessary. While there are certainly some individuals who may collect both, it is rare – and usually not for long, which is why we question the $1 billion over 10 years claim.

Consider this:
The Social Security Administration reports that the average processing time for a claim in Boston is 352 days, ranking us 68th in the country. That is nearly 1 year from the time your claim is denied until the time you are granted a hearing. Usually, you’ve already been waiting several months before that clock even starts ticking.

Now, consider that a recent report by the Wall Street Journal indicated that the maximum time an individual could collect unemployment benefits was 99 weeks, or a little less than 2 years. Many states have cut their unemployment benefit programs in the wake of the recession. Massachusetts wasn’t one of them, but the state only offered 54 weeks.

So 1 year would be the maximum amount of time you could potentially be collecting both benefits in Massachusetts. However, more than likely, one would receive unemployment benefits prior to receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, just by virtue of the processing time. Given the length of the time it takes to process SSDI claims in Boston, an individual would probably not be collecting both at the same time. The unemployment benefits would probably run out before SSDI benefits were ever granted – if they were granted – barring some severe or terminal condition that would warrant a fast-tracked Compassionate Allowance disability benefit grant.

So there are probably very few collecting both in Massachusetts.

Certainly, we can understand why someone would want to seek both. It can be a very rough financial ride when you are waiting for approval of SSDI benefits. You can’t work, but you still have bills and needs that require attention.

However, the reason we usually advise against collecting both is for this very simple reason: To do so is to claim two conflicting stances. By collecting unemployment, you are saying that you are willing and able to work, but the work is not available. However by seeking SSDI, you are saying that you may have available work, but you are unable to do it as a result of a debilitating medical condition.

When it comes time to evaluate your SSDI claim, your claim reviewer or administrative law judge is likely to question you on this conflict. It can be tough to explain, and in all likelihood, will result in the rejection of your claim. Considering that SSDI benefits last far longer than unemployment benefits, it’s usually not worth it, even for the short-term relief that the latter provides.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
H.R.1502 – Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act, Introduced April 11, 2013, By Rep. Sam Johnson, (R-TX), U.S. House of Representatives

More Blog Entries:
Budget Cuts to Increase Wait Times for Boston SSDI Claims, April 14, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog

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