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Can You Collect Unemployment Benefits If You Are Injured Off the Job?

When unexpectedly injured, it can interfere with almost every facet of your life, including your job. If you have a physically intensive job, an injury can take you out of work for an extended period.

If this sounds like you, you might wonder: Can you collect unemployment if you are injured off the job?

If you were injured off the job and need unemployment benefits, Sadaka Law is here to explain your options.

Sadaka Law is a personal injury law firm dedicated to helping injured people. You should be able to focus on what matters: your recovery. Let us take on the rest.

Eligibility Requirements

doctor bandaging an ankle injury

You can usually claim workers’ compensation for your work-related injury when injured on the job. Unfortunately, when injured off the job, that isn’t true. Some will turn to unemployment benefits instead.

However, you must meet specific eligibility requirements. Before asking, “Can you collect unemployment if you are injured off the job?” you must determine whether you meet the baseline requirements.

Ability To Work

Unemployment benefits are only available to people who can work. This means you cannot be physically or mentally limited from completing reasonable tasks at work. However, there are some exceptions to this. If your off-the-job injury left you disabled, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits if you can work with reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations, as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), are modifications an employer makes to a work environment to allow a disabled employee to perform their job successfully.

Availability To Work

Second, you must be available to work, meaning nothing currently prevents you from accepting a job, regardless of time and place. For example, you are ineligible for unemployment benefits if you:

  • Are unwilling to work at specific times or on specific days
  • Are unable to travel to work
  • Have personal obligations that limit your time for work

Seeking Work

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must actively seek work. Your exact field and situation will determine what an active job search looks like. Generally, you should send out resumes and take job interviews when employers offer them. Turning down suitable positions makes you ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Each state also has its own requirements for minimum earnings and work history.

File a Claim for Unemployment After an Off-the-Job Injury

employee filling up unemployment claim

Can you collect unemployment benefits if you are injured off the job? You can file an unemployment claim if you meet the above requirements despite your injury. First, gather all your identifying documents and information.

Once you have all the necessary information, apply online through your state government site. If they approve your claim, keep up with the requirements for benefits and report any changes.

However, if your injury makes you unable to work, you may be ineligible for unemployment benefits because of the “ability to work” requirement. Instead, you may be eligible for the Disability During Unemployment program, which six states offer:

  • New Jersey
  • California
  • Puerto Rico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Hawaii

If you’re a resident of these states, you may also apply online.

Documentation You Need To Apply for Unemployment Compensation

The application process for unemployment compensation can be complex. Work with the lawyers here at Sadaka Law to help you through the claim. When applying, you must gather personal documentation and proof of unemployment.

Personal documents you’ll need include:

  • Social security number, or your alien registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Driver’s license or ID
  • Military Form DD-214, if applicable

Financial documents and information you’ll need include:

  • Duration of pay you may be receiving
  • Pension information, if applicable
  • Bank account and routing numbers

Employment information you’ll need includes:

  • Recall date, if you expect to be recalled
  • Union contact information if you work under a union
  • If you were a federal employee, Form SF-8 or SF-50
  • Employer contact information for every employer from the last 18 months
  • Beginning and ending dates of employment
  • Reason for end of employment

Common Reasons for Claim Denials Related to Off-the-Job Injuries

attorney putting denied stamp in unemployment claim

Only some unemployment claims are approved. There are several reasons injured workers may face denials for their unemployment benefit claims:

  • Your injury makes you unable to work. If your off-the-work injury prevents you from working in any capacity, you cannot collect unemployment benefits. When you collect unemployment, you must be willing, able, and available to accept a job.
  • You refused suitable work. When you are injured, you may be able to work, even if it isn’t the job you had before your injury. If you receive a job offer for suitable work, denying it will make you ineligible for unemployment benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor describes suitable work as a job similar in wages, hours, or other conditions to your prior work.
  • You made false or inconsistent statements. Some applicants lie about or exaggerate the extent of their injuries in hopes of collecting unemployment. Your state will not approve your claim if you are caught in a lie or inconsistency.

How Can Individuals Appeal a Denial Decision?

You don’t have to give up after a denial. You have a right to appeal a denial decision, but you must do so within 21 days of the decision, or it becomes final.

You can file this application online, arguing your case. Include all relevant contact information, your reason for appeal, and other relevant information. Work with an attorney from Sadaka Law to strengthen your case.

How Are Benefit Amounts Calculated?

accountant calculating the unemployment benefits of their employee

The amount you can collect in unemployment benefits depends on your state. However, benefits are usually calculated according to your base year.

Your base year references the last four of your five completed calendar quarters before your unemployment claim. They use your past wages to determine what amount you are eligible for. For example, New Jersey offers 60% of your weekly wages in unemployment benefits, with a maximum of $713.

What Is the Duration of the Benefits?

Most states provide 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Montana is the only state that offers more than this, at 28. Several states offer less than 26 weeks of benefits, including:

  • Alabama (14 weeks)
  • Arkansas (16 weeks)
  • Florida (12 weeks)
  • Idaho (21 weeks)
  • Iowa (16 weeks)
  • Kansas (16 weeks)
  • Kentucky (12 weeks)
  • Michigan (20 weeks)
  • Missouri (20 weeks)
  • North Carolina (12 weeks)
  • Oklahoma (16 weeks)
  • South Carolina (20 weeks)

Alternative Financial Assistance Options

When your injury isn’t work-related, your options can appear limited. However, unemployment benefits aren’t your only option. You might consider Temporary Disability Insurance if your injury makes you unable to work. If your injury leaves you permanently disabled, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.

To learn more about your options, contact Sadaka Law.

Injured Off the Job? Contact Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers

Can you collect unemployment if you are injured off the job? It depends. While an off-the-job injury is more complicated than a workplace injury in terms of benefits, you have options. Regardless of your situation, you aren’t alone. You have options, and our team of skilled personal injury lawyers at Sadaka Law is ready to help you through this difficult process. Contact us today at 800-810-3457.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

Injured? Get Help Now.

If you’ve been injured by a person, product, or corporation, please contact the team at Sadaka Law today.

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