Earning Social Security Disability benefits while working–it is often asked, “Can I work and still receive SSD benefits?” The answer to that question depends on multiple factors but once you understand the guidelines, the answer is quite clear.
To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in what is called substantial gainful activity or SGA because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. By Social Security’s definition, substantial gainful activity means work that (a) involves doing significant and productive physical or mental duties; and (b) is done (or intended) for pay or profit. Activities involving self-care, household tasks, unpaid training, hobbies, therapy, school attendance, clubs, social programs, etc., are not generally considered to be SGA.
The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA for non-blind individuals for 2012 is $1,010.00 per month. In the case of a pending claim (disability application), you can work as long as your earnings do not exceed the earnings threshold for the SGA limit of $1,010.00 per month. If your gross monthly earnings exceed this amount, your claim will be denied because it is the Social Security Administration’s position that if you can make over $1,010.00 per month, you are not functionally limited enough to be considered disabled. The same applies to those who are already receiving Title II benefits or straight social security disability insurance; however, SSA also offers recipients the opportunity to try working for more money without necessarily giving up their benefits altogether.
The Social Security Administration has developed what is called a trial work period or TWP. The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for a full 9 months – those months do not need to be consecutive and can occur any time within a 36 month period. During your TWP, you will receive full SSDI benefits regardless of how high your earnings might be as long as you report your work activity and you have a disabling impairment. (Stay tuned for our next blog article regarding the TWP)
Now bear in mind that SSA manages two programs that provide benefits based on disability; SSDI (social security disability insurance) which is based on your earnings, and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) which is based on limited income and resources and not your work history. If you are receiving straight SSI benefits, what you receive in monthly benefits may be reduced by a certain amount based on how much you are earning. Therefore, if you are making close to the SGA amount of $1,010.00, your monthly benefit check will be significantly reduced.
One of the most important things to remember when receiving or applying for social security disability benefits and attempting to work is to keep the social security office or your disability representative up to date on any work activity; whether it is substantial or not. Being surprised at the hearing is never good.
If you need help with your Social Security Disability claim, contact Attorney Matthew Noyes. Attorney Matthew Noyes and his staff have been able to secure SSD benefits for those who have been denied. Click here to schedule a free case consultation.