According to FindLaw, it is rare for a person to receive both unemployment and Social Security disability, as the two types of benefits serve drastically different populations. Unemployment caters to individuals who are able to work, but who cannot find work. Social Security disability helps those who are unable to work, period. 

Of course, there are some cases in which a person may qualify for both types of benefits. However, before you think about filing a claim with both the Social Security Administration and the state’s unemployment office, consider the eligibility criteria for each type of benefit and the repercussions for “double-dipping.” 

Eligibility criteria for benefits

It is rare for a person to receive both unemployment and Social Security disability benefits because the eligibility criteria directly contradict one another. To qualify for unemployment, you must show that you are willing, ready and able to work. To qualify for disability benefits, however, you must prove that an injury or illness substantially limits or prohibits your ability to engage in full-time work. 

That said, a 1999 ruling stated that Social Security disability claims do not fundamentally conflict with other types of government benefits. This means that you can file a claim for both unemployment and disability, but it is up to you to prove that your eligibility for one claim does not contradict the other. You may be able to prove this if, say, you can work in a limited capacity and the SSA reduced the amount of your monthly benefit as a result. The state may approve your unemployment claim to may make up for the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury earnings and benefits. 

Consequences of double-dipping

The consequences of double-dipping can be costly and may entail jail time. If you mistakenly receive unemployment insurance, you may have to pay back the state what it paid you. If you filed unemployment knowing you did not qualify, the state may charge you with fraud. Fraud charges can result in criminal prosecution and hefty fines. If you plan to file for both unemployment and SSDI, your best bet would be to consult with Social Security disability attorney.