Disability Benefits Legally Available to Workers Laid Off or Fired During COVID-19
Unfortunately, many Americans have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. State laws provide unemployment benefits in the wake of job loss, but they do not last forever. Once unemployment benefits run out, and it becomes clear that your employer will not hire you back after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, you may want to consider applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration of the federal government.
Difference Between Unemployment and Disability Benefits
Unemployment benefits are awarded to people who have lost a job but are still able to work, while disability benefits are awarded when the recipient is unable to work.
Who Might Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Often, especially with older employees, the work that an employee performed before they were let go during the pandemic was the only work that they could perform. Employees with ailments sometimes work through their pain or discomfort or have developed very specific workarounds to perform their job responsibilities. These adjustments might not be feasible or reasonable for future employers.
Employees may also not be suited for reentry to the job market because their skills have become inapplicable to changing environments. This is especially true for employees with very specific skills that are not easily transferred to current jobs on the market. As you can imagine, this kind of disability is harder to prove because the claimant needs to convince the Social Security Administration that they are incapable of learning any additional skills that would make them fit for employment. Disability benefits based on a lack of ability to learn new skills are usually reserved for individuals with severe mental impairments, such as severe autism spectrum disorder or severe bipolar disorder.
Proving Eligibility for Benefits
The Social Security Administration awards disability benefits only when the applicant can clearly demonstrate that they are disabled with medical records, work history, or other forms of evidence, such as employer or doctor testimony. Thus, while many people do receive disability benefits, they are not always easy to obtain, especially for people with uneven work histories or less obvious disabilities like mental health issues or permanent soft tissue injuries. Before you begin the lengthy process of applying for disability benefits, you should consider whether your documented evidence may meet the rigorous standards imposed by the Social Security Administration. Each case is unique and highly fact-specific, though, so you may want to consult an attorney who can review the details of your medical record and limitations.