Can You Draw Social Security & Unemployment Benefits?

Unemployment benefits and Social Security benefits are entitlement benefits issued by the federal government. While unemployment benefits are intended to help a job seeker buy basic necessities while looking for work, Social Security benefits are meant to help bolster the incomes of the disabled and elderly. Both kinds of benefits have eligibility requirements. Only people who meet the requirements can get benefits. In some cases, a person can qualify for both kinds of benefits simultaneously.


Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits come in two main forms: benefits for low-income people with disabilities and benefits for retired persons. While an elderly person who has taken early retirement may be able to work, he cannot generally work full time -- otherwise he will have to return a portion of the money he receives from Social Security. Unemployment insurance benefits does not, however, count as income under the Social Security means test, which a person must pass to qualify for low-income benefits.


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Unemployment Benefits

To be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, a person must be available to work a full-time job. A person who is considered sufficiently disabled to receive Social Security benefits is generally not able to work, meaning that he cannot apply for unemployment benefits. A person who draws early retirement benefits from Social Security may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, if he has recently been laid off from his job and is still looking for work.

Size of Unemployment Benefits

The amount of unemployment benefits that a person receives is based in part on the amount of income that he currently has coming in. While unemployment benefits do not count as income under a Social Security means test, unemployment agencies do consider Social Security benefits to be a form of income. This means that a Social Security recipient who receives unemployment benefits will have his monthly unemployment benefits reduced by the amount of his monthly Social Security check.



A person cannot simultaneously receive full Social Security benefits -- for disability or retirement -- and receive full unemployment benefits. At best he would be eligible for full payment of one and partial payment of the other. According to the publication Today's Seniors, receiving full payment of both types of benefits would count as fraud. This fraud could be punished by fines, a revocation of one or both types of benefits, and potentially jail time.