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Can I Apply For Unemployment After Disability In California?

Last updated: November 21, 2023

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates reasonable accommodations in the workplace for qualified individuals with disabilities, ensuring equal employment opportunities.[1][4].

Under the ADA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers a process for individuals to file complaints if they experience discrimination due to their disability.[2]

California's Disability Insurance provides short-term wage replacement to workers who are unable to work due to non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy without offering job protection​​.[3]

Disabled employees must be provided with accommodations, whether they require modified work schedules, job restructuring, or assistive technology.[4]

Individuals in California may apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) after their Disability Insurance (DI) ends if they meet eligibility criteria, including active job searching and sufficient wages earned during the base period.[5]

In the state of California, individuals who have been temporarily or permanently disabled may wonder, “can I apply for unemployment after disability in California?” Disability benefits could be a lifeline if they can apply for unemployment benefits after their disability benefits have ended.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the eligibility criteria, application process, and important factors to consider when seeking unemployment benefits post-disability.

Understanding Disability Benefits And Unemployment Insurance

Can I Apply For Unemployment After Disability In California?

Before delving into the specifics of applying for unemployment after disability, it's crucial to understand California's two distinct benefits programs: Disability Insurance (DI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Disability Insurance (DI)

Disability Insurance is a state-run program that provides partial wage replacement to eligible workers who cannot work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy.[3]

Unemployment Insurance (UI)

Unemployment Insurance is a program that offers financial assistance to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are actively seeking new employment.

Eligibility For Unemployment Benefits After Disability

To qualify for unemployment benefits after receiving disability benefits in California, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You Are No Longer Disabled: You must fully recover from your disability and be medically cleared to work.
  • You Are Actively Seeking Employment: You must be available for work and actively looking for a job.
  • You Have Earned Sufficient Wages During Your Base Period: Your eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined by the wages you earned in a 12-month base period.[6] In California, the base period is usually the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before filing your claim.
  • You Have Lost Your Job Through No Fault Of Your Own: Your reason for unemployment cannot be due to your actions, such as voluntarily quitting or being terminated for misconduct.

Understanding Your Rights: ADA and EEOC Protections

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) play pivotal roles in safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities, especially regarding employment.[1]

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and training. This means that if you can perform the essential functions of a job, with or without reasonable accommodations, employers cannot refuse employment based on disability alone.

The EEOC enforces these regulations, ensuring that workplaces remain compliant. If an individual believes they've been discriminated against due to their disability, the EEOC provides avenues for filing complaints and seeking justice.[2]

Furthermore, both the ADA and EEOC emphasize the importance of reasonable accommodations. Employers must make necessary adjustments, whether modifying work schedules, restructuring jobs, or providing assistive technology to support disabled employees.[4]

By understanding and leveraging the protections the ADA and EEOC offers, individuals can confidently navigate the employment landscape, ensuring they're treated fairly and given equal opportunities post-disability.

Can I Apply For Unemployment After Disability In California?

After losing their disability benefits, many people ask, “can I apply for unemployment after disability in California?” If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for it. Follow these steps to apply for Unemployment Insurance in California:

  1. Gather Necessary Documents: Prepare all required documents, including your Social Security Number, mailing address, telephone number, and employment history for the past 18 months, including employer names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  2. Apply Online, By Phone, Or Mail: Visit the California Employment Development Department (EDD) website to submit your application online. Alternatively, you can apply by phone or mail.
  3. Register For CalJOBS: As a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits, you must register for the CalJOBS system, which is an online resource for job seekers in California.[5]
  4. Certify For Benefits: Once your application is approved, you must certify for benefits every two weeks, indicating your eligibility and job search efforts.

Fast Facts

The maximum duration of unemployment benefits in California is typically 26 weeks, but this can be extended under certain circumstances, such as during high unemployment rates.

Factors Affecting Your Unemployment Benefits

Several factors can impact the duration and amount of your unemployment benefits after disability:

  • Wages Earned During Your Base Period: Your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is determined by your earnings during the base period. The higher your wages, the higher your WBA.
  • Duration Of Benefits: In California, the maximum duration of unemployment benefits is typically 26 weeks. However, this may be extended under certain circumstances, such as during times of high unemployment rates.
  • Part-Time Work And Other Income: If you earn any income while receiving unemployment benefits, it may affect the amount of benefits you receive.
  • Availability Of Suitable Work: You must be willing and able to accept suitable work, should it become available.

Navigating Unemployment After Disability In California

Successfully navigating the transition from disability to unemployment benefits in California requires a clear understanding of the rules and procedures. Staying informed and proactive during this process can greatly improve your chances of receiving the financial support you need while searching for new employment opportunities.

Appealing A Denied Unemployment Claim

If your application for unemployment benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) will provide instructions on filing an appeal, including deadlines and required documentation. During the appeals process, it's essential to present your case clearly and provide any relevant evidence that supports your eligibility for benefits.

Job Search Resources And Assistance

While receiving unemployment benefits, it's crucial to use available resources to aid in your job search. In addition to registering for CalJOBS, consider the following resources and services:

  1. Local America's Job Centers Of California (AJCC): These centers offer various services, such as job search assistance, training programs, and workshops to help you develop your skills and find suitable employment.
  2. Networking And Job Fairs: Attend local job fairs and networking events to connect with potential employers and learn about job openings in your industry.
  3. Online Job Boards And Industry-Specific Websites: Utilize job boards and industry-specific websites to find job opportunities that align with your skills and experience.
  4. Social Media: Leverage your online presence and social media networks to research companies, connect with professionals in your field, and identify job opportunities.
  5. Professional Associations And Organizations: Join industry-specific professional associations and organizations to expand your network and gain access to job listings and career development resources.

Considerations For Self-Employment

If you're contemplating self-employment after disability, it's essential to carefully evaluate your options and create a solid plan before making the transition. Research your target market, develop a business plan, and consider seeking assistance from small business resources such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) or local business development centers.

Remember that if you become self-employed, you may no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits. It's crucial to understand the implications of this decision and plan accordingly to ensure financial stability during the transition.

Fast Facts

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that employers cannot refuse employment based on disability alone if the individual can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations.

Maintaining Mental And Emotional Well-being

The transition from disability to unemployment can be challenging, both mentally and emotionally. It's important to prioritize mental health and self-care while seeking support from friends, family, and professionals as needed. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, can help alleviate stress and maintain a positive outlook during your job search.

Understanding Your Rights As A Worker With Disabilities

As you return to the workforce, it's essential to understand your rights as a worker with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This federal law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, and termination. If you believe you've experienced discrimination due to your disability, you may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in the Transition from Disability to Unemployment

Eligibility For Unemployment Benefits After Disability

Navigating the shift from disability to unemployment benefits can be complex, and several common mistakes can hinder the process:

  1. Overlapping Claims: Applying for unemployment while receiving disability benefits can lead to conflicts. Ensure there's a clear transition between the two.
  2. Incomplete Documentation: Failing to provide comprehensive medical records or employment history can result in delays or denials. Always double-check your paperwork.
  3. Misunderstanding Eligibility: Not all disabilities qualify for unemployment benefits post-disability. Familiarize yourself with California's specific criteria.
  4. Not Seeking Expert Advice: Many individuals attempt to navigate the process alone, overlooking crucial details. Consulting with a legal expert or disability advocate can provide invaluable guidance.

By being aware of these common pitfalls and taking proactive steps to avoid them, individuals can ensure a smoother transition, maximizing their benefits and support during this critical period.

Fast Facts

The CalJOBS system is an essential online resource for job seekers in California, and registration is required for receiving unemployment benefits in the state.

Testimonials and Case Studies

Navigating the complexities of unemployment after disability can feel overwhelming. But real stories from individuals who've faced these challenges can offer invaluable insights. Here are a couple of testimonials that shed light on this journey:

  • Sarah, a 34-year-old graphic designer from San Diego, shares her experience:
    "After a car accident left me with a temporary disability, I was unsure if I could apply for unemployment once my disability benefits ended. Thankfully, with the right guidance, I transitioned smoothly. Now, I'm back in the workforce, grateful for the support I received during a challenging time."
  • Mark, a 50-year-old construction worker from Los Angeles, recounts:
    "I suffered a non-work-related injury that put me out of work for months. While on disability, I worried about my family's financial future. But learning about the possibility of unemployment benefits post-disability was a game-changer. It bridged the gap until I could return to work."

Case Study: Navigating Unemployment After Disability - Jessica's Journey

Background: Jessica, a 42-year-old schoolteacher from Sacramento, suffered a severe leg injury during a hiking trip, rendering her temporarily disabled and unable to stand or walk for extended periods.

Challenge: While Jessica received disability benefits, she was concerned about her financial stability once these benefits ceased, especially since her recovery was projected to take several months.


  1. Research & Consultation: Jessica consulted with a disability rights advocate who informed her about possibly applying for unemployment benefits post-disability in California.
  2. Documentation: She meticulously documented her recovery process, ensuring she had all necessary medical records and employment history.
  3. Application Process: Once her disability benefits neared their end, Jessica applied for unemployment benefits, detailing her current inability to perform her teaching duties and her active efforts to seek alternative employment.
  4. Utilizing Resources: Jessica also enrolled in vocational training programs recommended by her advocate, aiming to acquire skills that would allow her to work in a less physically demanding role.

Outcome: Jessica's unemployment application was approved, providing her with the financial support she needed. The vocational training she undertook during this period enabled her to transition into an educational consultancy role, which was less strenuous on her leg. By the time she fully recovered, Jessica had not only secured a new job but also expanded her professional skill set.

Key Takeaway: Proactive planning, understanding one's rights, and leveraging available resources can significantly ease the transition from disability to unemployment, opening doors to new opportunities.

The Crucial Role of Legal Professionals in Unemployment and Disability Matters

In the intricate landscape of unemployment and disability benefits in California, having a legal expert by your side can be invaluable. Legal professionals clarify complex regulations, ensuring that individuals receive the benefits they're entitled to.

Testimonial from Attorney Jane Doe: "Many of my clients come to me confused about the intersection of unemployment and disability benefits. California law has specific provisions that, when navigated correctly, can provide individuals with the maximum support they deserve."

Testimonial from Michael, a client: "After my accident, I was lost in a sea of paperwork and regulations. Hiring a disability lawyer was the best decision I made. They guided me through the process, ensuring I received both my disability and subsequent unemployment benefits."

Testimonial from Attorney John Smith: "It's not just about understanding the law; it's about understanding the individual's situation. Each case is unique, and a tailored approach often results in the best outcomes."

For those transitioning from disability to unemployment, seeking legal advice can be the difference between a smooth transition and potential pitfalls. Legal testimonials consistently highlight the benefits of professional guidance in these matters.


1. Can I apply for unemployment benefits while still receiving disability benefits in California?

No, you cannot receive both benefits simultaneously. It's essential to ensure a clear transition between disability benefits and unemployment benefits to avoid potential conflicts.

2. How does the ADA protect individuals with disabilities seeking employment?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all employment practices. This includes hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and training.

3. What role does the EEOC play in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the regulations set by the ADA. If someone believes they've faced discrimination due to their disability, the EEOC provides avenues for filing complaints and seeking justice.

4. What are "reasonable accommodations" in the context of employment?

Reasonable accommodations refer to necessary adjustments employers must make to support disabled employees. This can include modifying work schedules, restructuring jobs, or providing assistive technology.

5. Is consulting with a legal expert necessary when transitioning from disability to unemployment?

While not mandatory, seeking advice from a legal expert or disability advocate can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring you navigate the process correctly and maximize your benefits.

Applying For Unemployment Benefits

So, can I apply for unemployment after Disability in California? You can in some circumstances. Understanding the process of applying for unemployment benefits after Disability in California is crucial for a smooth transition into the workforce. By staying informed, utilizing available resources, and maintaining a proactive approach to your job search, you can improve your chances of finding suitable employment and achieving financial stability.

You can learn more about how unemployment affects your SSDI by visiting Disability Help and checking out our guides and resources.

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Zoey Appleton
Zoey has worked with Cheri for years and has been creating the best articles not only for Disability Help but for our readers. Her job hits close to home for she has a brother with special needs. She hopes to see science and technology pave the way for a better life, with Disability Help to cover it and share it with those that need it.
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