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Claiming Unemployment Benefits while Receiving Social Security Administration Disability Payments

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By Poverty Solutions, The Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law, The Century Foundation, The Arc of the US, The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities


The CARES Act greatly strengthened and expanded the dollar amount, duration, and coverage of unemployment assistance for U.S. workers. Under the CARES Act, a wider class of workers, including those with limited recent formal earnings or with income from self-employment, is now eligible for unemployment benefits. These changes have also prompted questions about the implications for workers receiving disability (SSI or SSDI) benefits whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This brief:

  • Clarifies the dollar amount and duration of benefits that unemployed workers can receive through pandemic-related changes to unemployment assistance; and
  • Discusses the interaction between disability benefits and unemployment assistance, highlighting potential eligibility issues that could affect the simultaneous receipt of unemployment assistance and disability benefits.

Key Findings

  • SSI and SSDI participants who lost part-time work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are generally eligible for UI or PUA benefits, with some state exceptions for SSDI.
  • Receipt of partial unemployment benefits could also affect SSI eligibility but likely would not impact SSDI eligibility.

Download PDF of the full policy brief