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The Americans With Disabilities Act and Unemployment

Have you found yourself unemployed recently? If you have a legally recognized disability, you may have more to unpack than where your next paycheck is coming from. Consult with an employment law attorney if you believe that you were let go from your previous job because of your disability. In the meantime, let’s look at what the Americans with Disabilities Act and unemployment mean to you.

Why Am I Unemployed?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified employees from being fired for reasons directly related to their disability. Even if the company practices at-will employment, there are exceptions. Employment at will doesn’t mean your boss can fire you solely on the basis of your gender, race, or disability status. However, an employee with a disability can legally be let go under one of three conditions.

If the termination is unrelated to the disability, if the employee is legitimately unqualified, or if they pose a direct health or safety threat, that termination is legal. If your termination doesn’t fall under one or more of these three conditions, confer with a disability attorney to discuss possible next steps.

What Benefits Do I Qualify For?

You’ve got two main options in front of you: UI (unemployment insurance) and SSDI (Social Security disability insurance). However, when you certify for unemployment benefits, you also certify that you are ready and able to work if an opportunity arises. Disability benefits signal to the federal government that you are unable to work due to your disability.

Can I Collect Both?

This answer is tricky. Technically, yes—but only under very specific circumstances, and not always to your benefit.

If you have recently filed for SSDI benefits and are waiting for the office to make a decision, you may be able to certify for unemployment benefits in the meantime. But if you qualify for SSDI benefits and start receiving payments, you are no longer eligible for unemployment and may be asked to pay back the money you received. In addition, the administrative law judge deciding your disability case may frown on you collecting unemployment benefits.

Some people wait to apply for SSDI benefits until after their unemployment runs out. Either way, be prepared to explain your decisions to the judge deciding your disability case. Many people do understand that you need to fill that gap in income, but consult with an employment law attorney before you apply for any benefits.

When you have a disability and find yourself out of a job, call Rossman Law Group to discuss your next steps. Our team of attorneys specializes in disability and employment law, and we’ll guide you through all possible paths to take. Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act and unemployment by contacting us today.