Can You Qualify For Both Unemployment And Social Security Benefits?

The pandemic caused millions to lose their jobs or simply stop working when businesses shut down. Those who could work from home, but others with non-desk jobs had no choice but to leave and take unemployment.

Now that more shutdowns may be on the horizon, more people may be back on unemployment. But if you were also receiving Social Security benefits, you may be wondering how this will work. Can you get both?

Can You Qualify For Both Unemployment And Social Security Benefits?

It sounds odd, but you can, if you meet all of the criteria for Social Security. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.


First, unemployment insurance (UI) does not prevent you from receiving Social Security benefits. Earned wages and income from work are what’s considered “income” and counted against the income limits. Unemployment benefits are not counted as “income” under Social Security’s guidelines.

However, UI is handled on the state level, much will depend on the state’s rules. In Texas, you’ll need to speak with the Texas Workforce Commission to find out exactly how the Lone Star State handles UI with Social Security.

At one time, most states reduced the amount of unemployment paid to older workers who also received Social Security. Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota still reduce the amount of UI without complete disqualification. In other states, these laws have been largely eliminated.


To apply for Social Security benefits, you must be at least 62 and have a qualifying work history. You must also be:

  • A U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident of the United States with a documented residency period
  • Show a 10-year work history and have at least 40 work credits. Credits are earned after earning a minimum income level each quarter
  • Not specifically barred from program participation, such as railroad workers whose pension plans opted out of Social Security on their behalf
  • Disabled
  • The retired spouse, surviving spouse, or dependent of a program participant

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, may disqualify you from unemployment insurance. By receiving disability, it means that you are too disabled to work, and therefore, ineligible for UI.

You can apply for unemployment at any time online through your state’s agency website (such as the Texas Workforce Commission above.) In states other than the above ones, you will not be required to disclose Social Security payments, although it’s suggested that you should mention it to someone you speak with to ensure that everything is in order.

Both Social Security and UI have income limits on what you can bring in before a reduction in your benefit amounts.

Social Security vs. Unemployment Insurance

While it is possible to get both, remember that UI is short-term while Social Security is long-term.

During the pandemic, unemployment benefits were extended and enriched, helping many people make ends meet while they were out of work.

When the full force of pandemic shutdowns happened, many people from 62 to 65 who found themselves unemployed began applying to receive Social Security. While this may help in the short term, in the long term, your lifetime payments are reduced.

But waiting until your full retirement age, whether 65 to 67, depending on your birth date, will ensure that you receive 100% of your earned retirement benefits. If you wait until age 70, you’ll receive even more.

Rescinding Your Social Security Benefits

If you decided to begin taking Social Security while unemployed and change your mind later, you can withdraw your application for benefits until a future date. Here’s how it works:

  • You must file to rescind within 12 months of receiving Social Security
  • You must repay all benefits received, including family benefits
  • You can only do this one time

The advantage is that your application will be an “annulment” for your original start date, and you can continue to work and contribute. Your benefits will grow over time, and when you turn 70, you’ll automatically receive Social Security at a higher rate.

Call Us For Help With Social Security, Disability, And Other Claims

We’re experienced in handling all types of benefit claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.


Call Now Button