How Unemployment Benefits Impact NY Workers’ Comp and Disability Benefits


The economic downturn has affected almost all Americans. Whether it is losing a job, facing foreclosure, or cutting back on spending, these are challenging times in our country. The so-called “jobless recovery” seems to have no end in sight.

High numbers of Americans continue to face unemployment in a difficult job market. New Yorkers are no different. The state’s unemployment rate for September 2011 was eight percent. Although the rate was better than the national rate of 9.1 percent, it still meant that 759,000 New Yorkers were out of work, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Many people turn to unemployment insurance benefits as a safety net to help get by financially until they are able to find work. People in this circumstance may wonder how receiving unemployment benefits may impact other benefits they may be seeking, such as workers’ compensation or Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).

Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Workers’ Compensation

If a worker is injured during the course of his or her employment, he or she may be eligible for New York workers’ compensation benefits. An injured employee does not need to prove negligence or fault on the part of his or her employer.

Workers only need to establish that the injury or disease was caused or ggravated by their jobs. Injured workers may receive workers compensation for lost salary and medical bills related to the injury.

It is possible to receive both workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance benefits (UI). If an individual receiving workers’ compensation is both physically able and available for work, he or she may also be entitled to UI benefits. The worker at that point acknowledges that the workers’ compensation injury renders the worker partially disabled. The worker may then qualify for workers’ compensation benefits although possibly at a reduced weekly rate reflecting the partial nature of the disability.

Unemployment insurance benefits, however, may be reduced. The weekly amount of your UI benefits and workers’ compensation may not be greater than your average wage per week. If you disagree with a reduction in your UI benefits because of the workers’ compensation funds you receive, you have the right to request a hearing on the matter.

A person wishing to file for UI in addition to workers’ compensation is required to fill out certain paperwork as well as provide a physician’s statement indicating he or she is able to work.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Generally speaking, if you have a disability preventing you from working for a year or more, and you have worked enough time in jobs covered by Social Security, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Importantly, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability and have enough work credits to be eligible for benefits. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can assist you in making this determination.

Under most circumstances, you cannot receive both UI and disability benefits. This is because the qualifications of the two programs are essentially contradictory. To receive disability benefits, you need to claim that you are unable to work. To receive UI, you need to claim that you are able to work but unable to find a job.

That being said, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not strictly prohibit receiving both forms of benefits. In very special circumstances, perhaps if you are doing very part-time or accommodated work that the SSA does not consider substantial and gainful, you may be eligible for both types of benefits. A judge for you disability case, however, has the right to consider the fact that you are receiving UI benefits, which may negatively impact your case.

Additionally, sometimes it may make sense to apply for both UI and disability benefits if you are not sure if your condition will allow you to hold a job. As soon as you know your disability status, you can drop one of your applications. Sometimes, benefits begin based on the date of your application (instead of when you lose your job or become disabled), so by applying for both programs, you may be protecting your rights.

Contact a New York Social Security Disability Lawyer

With regard to eligibility for benefits, every person’s situation is unique. If you are considering applying for workers’ compensation or disability benefits, contact the law offices of Robert A. Koenigsberg, a New York social security disability law firm knowledgeable in those areas. We can help you decide which benefits you may be eligible for and assist you in navigating through the application process. Call (212) 964-9292 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.