There is no law prohibiting a person from receiving Michigan Social Security disability benefits and unemployment compensation for the same time period; however, these cases are difficult because of the inherent conflict in the requirements for both programs. Specifically, to qualify for Michigan Social Security disability benefits, you must have a severe impairment that renders you unable to work; to qualify for unemployment benefits, on the other hand, you must be able to work, and ready and willing to do so. If unemployment compensation is an issue in your Michigan Social Security disability case, then you and your disability attorney should consider (1) the views of the administrative law judge who will be presiding over your Michigan disability benefits hearing, and (2) your alleged “onset” date.
Views of the hearing judge
Some Michigan disability hearing judges will be open to an argument that there is no actual conflict arising out of your receipt of unemployment benefits. For example, if the facts of your case warrant it, you may be able to persuade the judge that, even though you were willing to work and would have attempted to work during the time you were receiving unemployment, in retrospect it is clear that you would not have been able to sustain work. Most administrative law judges, however, will view your receipt of both Michigan disability benefits and unemployment compensation as evidence of double-dipping and proof that you are, in fact, able to work. To persuade these judges that you are rightfully entitled to Michigan disability benefits, you will need additional evidence. Consider your “onset” date.
Your “onset date” is the date you became disabled. Make sure that the onset date alleged in your initial application for Michigan disability benefits is accurate. Did you choose this date after giving careful thought to your medical condition, or did an employee of the Michigan Social Security office, in the process of helping you fill out your paperwork, simply suggest using your last date of work? Discuss with your Michigan disability attorney your claimed onset date, the circumstances leading up to your request for unemployment benefits, and your present work limitations. If a later onset date applies, your Michigan Social Security disability attorney can help you amend your initial application. This change, by itself, may be enough to remove any suggestion of a conflict between your application for Michigan disability benefits and your receipt of unemployment benefits.