Q: Can I collect Social Security disability and unemployment benefits at the same time?

A: If you are collecting Social Security benefits, either SSI or SSDI, then you should not be collecting state unemployment benefits at the same time. The reason is that you are swearing under oath to contradictory levels of impairment on the applications.  If you are collecting SSI/SSDI then you are considered “totally disabled from substantial gainful employment” by the federal government. If you apply for unemployment benefits you are swearing that you are “ready, willing and able to work.” Collecting both benefits may get you into a situation where either Social Security or the state would be seeking an overpayment, or for you to pay back the money received during the months you collected both. Either way, you do not want to get stuck with a large bill you cannot pay back. However, many of my clients do collect unemployment while their SSI/SSDI applications are pending. This isn’t an ideal situation for the reasons described above, and this has become more of a point of contention with Social Security judges recently, but as long as you are not actually receiving both types of monetary benefits during the application process the receipt of unemployment benefits can be adequately explained so as not to cause an issue.  If you are in the process of applying for SSI/SSDI and are collecting unemployment benefits, it is always best to consult an attorney to avoid an issue.