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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Social Security Disability vs. Unemployment

Recently a low-vision relative lost her job as a receptionist due to the company implementing a new phone system. Her vision has been becoming more and more impaired. Her eye doctor qualifies her for total disability. However, unemployment says she can't get unemployment since she's disabled. When applying for Social Security disabilility, they say she can be rehabilitated. Hence, a catch 22. Meanwhile, she has no income. Where can I go to find resources for her?

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Re: Social Security Disability vs. Unemployment

You cannot apply for both, because by applying for unemployment you are saying that you are physically able to work, but cannot find a job. While applying for Disability, you are saying that you are physically unable to work. These are two contradicting statements:

Re: Social Security Disability vs. Unemployment

I would suggest that her best course of action is to contact her local vocational rehabilitation agency to find out if they can help her in anyway, including with finding another job or with technical skills or equipment to work in some other profession. VisionAware offers a directory of services where she can locate the appropriate agency that can help her. Here is the link to the directory:
It is too bad that she has already lost her job since an agency of this type can often work with the employer to determine job accommodations that can be made.
VisionAware also has a section on Social Security benefits:
Technically, a person can apply for disability and get unemployment at the same time. However, there are risks to doing that. Here is a link to a discussion of the pros and cons:
We hope these resources help. Please do not hesitate to contact us again. VisionAware's email is:

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