Can I Get Unemployment Benefits if I'm Disabled?

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Unemployment benefits offer temporary relief to unemployed citizens while they search for new employment. In nearly every state, unemployment is not available to anyone who is unable to actually perform work. If you're disabled, this is an important eligibility requirement to consider. If your disability prevents you from working, you can't receive benefits because you couldn't conceivably find another job. When you apply, you must disclose your disability and may be required to show evidence of your ability to work.

Types of Disabilities

There are different levels of disabilities. You may be fully or partially disabled, depending on your injury or illness. Being a paraplegic, for instance, is very different from being considered legally blind. The level of your disability is determined by your limitations; discussing it with a health care provider can give you a better idea where you fall on the spectrum.

Able to Work

Regardless of what state you live in, one of the major requirements for unemployment is the ability to work. Unemployment benefits are temporary and the goal is to help you while you look for work. If you could never conceivably perform work, it defeats the purpose of the benefits. However, being disabled doesn't necessary mean that you can't perform work. If you can still earn a living despite any limitations, you may still be eligible for benefits.

Filing an Initial Claim

When you file for your benefits with the state labor office, you must disclose whether you're disabled. Then you'll have to provide information on your disability and your ability to work. The state labor office will verify your information. In some states, you may need confirmation from your health care provider that you have the ability to work. To determine if your state would require that information, contact the state labor office for more information (see Resources).

If You're Not Eligible

After the state labor office reviews your information, you'll receive a notice of determination by mail. If you are denied based on whether you're able to work, you can appeal the decision. During the appeals hearing, you have the opportunity to show evidence that you can perform work. If that appeal is denied and the state claims that you are too disabled to work, consider filing for Social Security benefits in your state, based on your disability. These payments offer permanent assistance to disabled individuals who don't have the ability to earn income for themselves.


About the Author

Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.