Social Security Lawyer: Can I Collect Social Security Disability Benefits If I Was Laid Off?

We want to help you understand the difference between unemployment benefits and social security disability benefits to assist you make decisions regarding your rights and government benefits.  We recommend consulting a social security lawyer.

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, then you will need to gather documentation regarding your employment history.  The Social Security administration requires that you have worked 5 of the last 10 years to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI).  However, if you were laid off during that period, this may affect your eligibility.  

Unemployment is a state benefit, and the state’s eligibility may be slightly different, as will be the compensation amount. To be eligible for unemployment, you need to have worked a certain number of weeks, and a certain number of hours each week. This dictates how many weeks you’re eligible for unemployment compensation. You also must have lost your job through no fault of your own, although there exist strict exceptions. If you were laid off, then this is a job loss through no fault of your own. 

Once you qualify for unemployment, you still must be ready, willing, and able to work and prove that you’re looking for work while unemployed.


To be eligible for SSDI, you must meet the stringent criteria set by Social Security. Examples of some of the basic qualifying criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits include:

  • Be unable to work because you have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death
  • Not have a partial or short-term disability
  • Meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability
  • Be younger than your full retirement age

While these are the most basic eligibility criteria, this list does not include all qualifying criteria.  For a full list of eligibility criteria, it is recommended that you consult with a social security lawyer.

Unemployment and SSDI

Unemployment requires that you be ready, willing, and able to work. SSDI’s criteria are that you must be unable to work. Generally speaking, if you cannot work, you cannot collect unemployment. If you can work, you are not eligible for SSDI.

What If You Are Disabled and Unemployed?

For someone suffering from a disability obtaining new employment after being laid off can be challenging. New employers may not be willing or able to make accommodations; they would have a large application pool making it more challenging for a disabled person to rise above other applicants; or they could be older, and new employers select younger applicants. SSDI may view younger applicants as able to “settle” for a lesser position. At the same time, older applicants may be viewed as not adjusting or finding a new line of work.

Consult A Social Security Lawyer

Can you collect social security disability benefits if you were laid off? It depends on several factors regarding your particular disability, and the documentation you have about it. Your first step should be to reach out to a social security disability lawyer immediately for guidance about the process. By partnering with a social security disability lawyer, they can help you gather the documentation for your case, including medical documentation, employment history, and the conditions of your layoff which will not disqualify you from getting accepted into the program.  Then you will be able to get a clear evaluation whether you should proceed with an SSDI application. The Social Security Administration will pay the lawyer once you have been accepted into the program. 

Are you ready to apply for Social Security Disability? Get started immediately with a free case evaluation.

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