Choosing between Unemployment and Disability Benefits

If you’re out of work, you may be able to get help to replace your lost wages. But which program do you want to pursue first? Depending on the reasons you stopped working, you may qualify for unemployment benefits or disability benefits.

My Law Firm wants to help you get benefits and get them fast. The best way to do that is to know which program you qualify for and apply as soon as possible. A disability lawyer on our team can help you to get the benefits you are entitled to.

Differences between Disability and Unemployment

Both disability and unemployment benefits are supposed to make up for lost wages. Depending on which disability program you qualify for, it can be paid by federal or state programs. Individual states pay unemployment, so the following requirements apply only to unemployment benefits for New Mexico residents.

To claim unemployment benefits in New Mexico, a person must:

  • have earned enough earnings in New Mexico
  • be able and available to work
  • have lost their job through no fault of their own
  • be actively seeking a new job
  • you have had “good cause” to leave the job voluntarily, not just if you’re laid off or terminated and it’s not your fault

To claim disability benefits, a person must:

  • have a condition, injury, or illness that keeps them from working
  • meet income and resource requirements if they are applying for benefits from Social Security

Choosing a Program

The type of benefits you can get depends on why you stopped working. You can’t be ready to work if you are injured, so you don’t meet the requirements for unemployment. However, you might be able to claim disability benefits.

Timing is critical if you’re out of work and not earning an income. Apply for the programs you qualify for as soon as possible. If your application is denied, file an appeal by calling my Law Firm. Unemployment benefits are handled at a more local level than disability benefits, so you may want to apply for them first. You can expect to hear back from unemployment sooner than disability if you’ve filed an initial application.
Amount of Unemployment Benefits

Former employees are eligible to collect 25% of the wages they earned during the first four of the last five quarters that they worked. This “base period” is the year before you began to receive benefits. When a beneficiary reaches the 25% mark, or $7,150, the benefits end. You can file an extension online.
Filing a Claim

You can file for unemployment benefits online. Once your claim is approved, you can expect to see a benefits check in the mail within 3 or 4 weeks. Disability claims involve more paperwork because you have to prove that your injury or sickness is affecting your ability to work. You may not hear a decision for 3 to 5 months.

My Firm knows that it can be a stressful situation when you’re not working. If you have a disability on top of that, it can be overwhelming. I want to help you reclaim the lost wages you are entitled to while out of work. Call, email, fill out the disability form, or use our general contact form today so experienced and compassionate guidance can begin.

Contact me now to see how I can help you with your Disability Claim or Appeal!