Social Security Disability, the CARES Act, and Unemployment
We find that a number of clients and potential clients of ours have had a lot of questions regarding other sources of income and how it may affect their eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits, such as the CARES Act stimulus check and unemployment benefits. These benefits will not affect your eligibility, but may affect the amount of money you receive.
The CARES Act, passed in March of 2020, provided a full amount of $1200 per adult and $500 per dependent to individuals with and without disabilities, including those on SSI and/or SSDI. In order to have received these benefits automatically, you needed to have filed a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return. You would still receive this benefit if you hadn’t filed a tax return in those years, but you would have had to fill out some more paperwork, including Social Security beneficiaries.
For those on Social Security Disability (SSI and SSDI), these payments will not affect your disability benefit amount if you are already receiving disability benefits, and will NOT affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. For those receiving SSI, the payments will not count as income or additional resources.
As of December 2020, Congress passed an emergency economic relief bill that will provide those making less than $75,000 a year another check for $600. It will follow the same stipulations as the initial relief check.
It is legal to draw SSDI and unemployment benefits without affecting the amounts received from the other program. However, if you are receiving unemployment and are awarded SSI, your unemployment benefits WILL reduce the amount you receive monthly through SSI.
While it is legal to draw from both of these programs, it can be tricky to do so, because the key criteria from these programs are fundamentally at odds.
In order to collect unemployment, you much be actively looking for work.
In order to collect SSD, you must be unable to work.
Collecting unemployment and applying for Social Security Disability can be a tricky situation to be in. For example, you may be able to work, but only in a very specific capacity due to your disabilities, and those jobs are difficult to find. Say you need frequent breaks to lie down, or need to work at a slower pace than average; you may be able to find an employer who is willing to accommodate those needs, but it will be difficult to find them.
It is difficult to give simple advice regarding unemployment and Social Security Disability. We would recommend applying for both, then contact a trusted Social Security Disability Attorney, such as those at Kapor | Davis & Associates, so we can work out the details of your specific case.