Can You Receive State Unemployment Benefits and VA Disability Benefits?
The government offers benefits, including unemployment benefits, to residents and their families in times of need. Veterans may qualify for disability benefits from the Veterans Administration and unemployment benefits from the federal or state government at the same time, because the types of benefits serve different purposes.
The biggest difference between unemployment and disability benefits is that unemployment is intended to be temporary whereas disability is generally for the rest of a person’s life, or as long as their disabling condition lasts. VA disability benefits, according to President Abraham Lincoln’s vision, exist “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”
Additionally, the organizations involved in determining and issuing the benefits are two different entities. Individual states usually run unemployment benefits programs, and the Veterans Administration parcels out VA disability benefits.
Procedurally, the two systems have some similarities. Many times, receiving unemployment benefits is simply a matter of filling out paperwork. If the applicant’s former employer blocks the request, the applicant can have a lawyer for an appeal. Occasionally, receiving VA disability benefits is as easy as filing paperwork, as well. However, the denial rate of veteran disability claims is rising, so veterans often partner with a VA disability attorney in their appeals.
State Unemployment Benefits
The easiest grants of unemployment benefits occur when an employer dismisses an employee due to “lack of work,” which is another term for a layoff. This is a situation where simply filing paperwork is all that’s required. If the applicant quit their previous job or was fired by the employer for misconduct, the entity running the program will investigate. There may be a hearing where the applicant can plead their case, and they have the option for a lawyer.
The weekly benefit varies in different states, from a high of $783 in Massachusetts to a low of $235 in Mississippi. Occasionally — most recently in 2020, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — the federal government augments these benefits.
Federal unemployment benefits may last six months at a time, but the government may extend those benefits. State programs can run up to one year. Applicants must meet certain requirements to be eligible for benefits, including:
- Residency in country or specific state
- The claimant must have been previously employed for a certain amount of time
- Proof of an ongoing job search
- You cannot have quit your previous job without good cause or been fired for misconduct related to your work
The federal or state entity offering benefits may temporarily change or waive these requirements. The agency may base the amount you receive in benefits on you prior wages. For example, in Virginia, the employment commission looks at your wages in four of the last five calendar quarters prior to your claim. The amount you’re entitled to may differ from another person receiving unemployment in your state. The determination of whether you are unemployed is a “yes or no” question — there is no level of unemployment to determine.
VA Disability Benefits
Now, let’s look at how VA disability benefits are different in each area, and how a VA disability attorney helps Veterans obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
The extent of unemployment is not an issue in unemployment benefits cases. If the boss reduced the applicant’s hours, the applicant is usually “working” and therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits. The extent of disability, however, is a major issue in VA disability claims. The Veterans Administration uses a rating system, from 0 percent disabled to 100 percent disabled, to determine the amount of cash benefits.
The VA usually orders “compensation and pension” medical examinations performed by VA physicians or nurses. This is to determine the presence and level of disability. Doctors can rush these exams, leaving them inadequate and often insufficient to obtain the highest rating a veteran deserves. Attorneys often connect veterans with independent doctors who offer a second opinion.
VA disability benefits are available if the Veteran’s disability was service-connected. This connection could be direct or indirect.
VA disability benefits are usually permanent and subject to periodic review. Once a year, disabled veterans must undergo a C&P or other medical examination to determine if their condition is better, worse, or the same. Once again, an attorney can arrange for an additional medical examination, if needed.
VA disability benefits are up to $3,400 a month for 100 percent disability. Significantly, VA disability benefits are tax-free, whereas unemployment benefits are taxable, at least in most cases. The Veterans Administration provides disabled veterans with free medical care at any VA medical facility.
Count on Dedicated Attorneys
An attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box on our website. We are here to represent veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.