Can I Still Work And Receive Disability Benefits
Yes, you can still work and receive disability benefits, but there are limitations on this for both SSDI & SSI.
Generally speaking, SSDI recipients cant start doing whats considered substantial gainful activity while receiving disability benefits. SGA means you are doing competitive work and making more than $1,220, pre-tax, per month in 2019 . There are some exceptions to this rule, however.
If you are approved for SSI, you can also work and continue to receive your disability benefits as long as your wages and other resources do not exceed the SSAs income limit for SSI . But, your monthly benefit amount may be reduced in proportion to your income, such that after your first $65 earned, the Social Security Administration will reduce your SSI benefit by one dollar for every two dollars you earn.
Example: Jane is receiving SSI, but is able to do a little part-time book-keeping work at home for a friends business. The business pays Jane $475 per month. The SSI ignores the first $65 Jane is paid, and modifies Janes monthly benefit based on an income of $410 per month. They reduce her benefit of by $1 for every $2 she earns so they will reduce her benefit by $205 per month.
More information on the SSI and Working can be found here. You can also ask your disability advocate to for help understanding the fairly complex rules and regulations surrounding work and SSDI/SSI.
Working Part Time After You’re Approved For Benefits
After you start receiving benefits, the rules change a bit as to whether you can work part time. For Social Security disability insurance , technically the SGA limit still applies, but you have what’s called a “trial work period.” This is a period of nine months during which you can more than the SGA limit. For more information, see our article on the trial work period.
If you’re receiving SSI, the $1,310 SGA limit applies only during your first month of benefits. After that, the SSI income limit applies instead. Because of the way earned income is counted , there is no set SSI income limit for those who work part-time. But the more you earn, the lower your SSI payment will be. And when you start making upwards of $1,600, your SSI payment will be reduced to zero. To understand how this works, see our article on the SSI income limit.
In Many Cases The Answer Is Yes
, and originally published on May 16, 2016.
Social Security isn’t just for retirees; it’s also designed to help people with disabilities stay afloat financially. As of 2017, nearly 9 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits. But as useful as those benefits might be, they’re often not enough to help recipients cover their living costs in full. If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits, there’s good news in this regard: You can work and continue to collect your monthly Social Security payments as long as you meet certain criteria.
To be considered eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you cannot engage in what’s known as substantial gainful activity . The Social Security Administration defines “substantial” as earning more than a certain amount each month. For 2018, you can work and collect your disability benefits as long as your earnings don’t exceed $1,180 per month, or $1,970 if you’re blind .;However, there are also exceptions to this rule.
Substantial Gainful Activity & Disability Benefits
As mentioned above, eligibility for SSI and SSDI is based on your inability to work. This is specifically defined by the SSA as a substantial gainful activity, or SGA. Earning more than a certain amount of money is deemed engaging in a substantial gainful activity, which would make one ineligible for benefits. As of 2020, the substantial gainful activity limit is $1,260 per month for disabled applicants.
If you earn more than that, you may not be eligible for SSDI. There is no limit on unearned income.
When Volunteer Work May Be Considered Sga
Although the SSA doesn’t have specific guidelines to use in deciding whether doing volunteer work demonstrates the ability to work full time, here are some examples that the SSA might use as evidence that you can work at the SGA level:
- You volunteer more than a few hours a week.
- The volunteer work you do would be above the SGA level if you received fair payment for it.
- The physical requirements of the volunteer work indicate you could work at the SGA level, or
- You are volunteering at a small business that is owned by a relative.
In one case, for example, a disability recipient who past work was as a certified public account began to volunteer at a local organization. He worked as the organization’s bookkeeper for five hours per week. When the recipient’s case underwent a continuing disability review , the SSA determined that he was able to work at the SGA level. This is because bookkeeping was the kind of work usually done for pay, and the amount of pay the recipient could have received for the services he provided to the organization were at the SGA level.
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Doing Volunteer Work Can Be Considered Substantial Gainful Activity Which Could Cause Your Social Security Disability Benefits To Terminate
By Melissa Linebaugh, Contributing Author
Volunteer work may or may not disqualify you for disability benefits, depending on the circumstances. The main rule is that you can’t receive Social Security disability benefits if you are doing what the Social Security Administration considers a substantial amount of work.
Extended Period Of Eligibility
Once your trial work period is over, you can still receive disability benefits for any month in which your earnings fall below the SGA threshold. This extended period of eligibility lasts 36 months and offers additional protection in the event that you’re unable to work consistently as a result of your condition. Furthermore, if your Social Security disability payments do stop because your income exceeds the SGA limit, you still have five years to get those benefits reinstated.
Frequently Asked Questions About Working With A Disability
How will working affect my disability benefits and health care coverage?
This is a complicated question and the answer varies by situation and individual. In order to address your specific concerns about how working will affect your disability benefits or health care coverage, we have Disability Resource Coordinators available in some of our One-Stop Career Centers around the state. All of our Disability Resource Coordinators are certified benefits counselors who can provide free benefits counseling and tell you about the Ticket to Work Program. Go to the Disability Employment Initiative , to locate a Disability Resource Coordinator near you.
What is the Ticket to Work Program?
Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that can help Social Security Beneficiaries go to work and become financially independent. Individuals ages 18-64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income may qualify for this program. To find out more about the Ticket to Work Program, go to the Disability Employment Initiative to contact a Disability Resource Coordinator.
Can I return to work while receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income ?
If I go to work, will I automatically lose my Medicare or Medicaid?
If I use my Ticket to go to work, will the Social Security Administration conduct a medical review of my case?
How can the local One Stop Career Center in my county assist me with the Ticket to Work Program?
The Ticket To Work Program
If you’re an SSDI recipient wanting to work but unable to perform any of your past jobs, you may be eligible for free vocational rehabilitation, schooling, or technical training through Social Security’s Ticket to Work program. Those participating in Ticket to Work will be evaluated at a vocational rehabilitation office and a plan will be developed for the individual to try to return to the workforce. As an added incentive, Social Security may not initiate a Continuing Disability Review of an individual in the Ticket to Work program.
The Exception To The Rule
You may be able to get both benefits if you opted for early retirement before you received disability benefits. These are also known an concurrent benefits. This exception would be applicable in a situation where an individual retired early due to serious medical conditions. If that individual can prove that they developed the disability prior to receiving early retirement income, theyll be able to earn both benefits.
How To Qualify For Ssi Benefits
You can get Social Security disability benefits even if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. The SSA offers the SSI program to disabled adults and children who have limited financial resources. As we mentioned before, if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you could qualify for SSI.
You have to meet the same medical disability standards as a person does for SSDI. Your income must be low, and your countable assets cannot exceed the limit for SSI. SSI is a safety net so that people who cannot work for a living but cannot collect SSDI can pay for essential items, like food, clothing, and shelter.
SSI has these requirements:
- You have a severe illness or injury that meets the benchmarks of the SSAs Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book.
- Your disability prevents you from supporting yourself through gainful employment.
- You must have very little income. This number can change every year. Because SSI is a joint program of the federal and state government, the income limit varies by location.
- Your countable assets must not exceed the SSI limit. This number can also change every year. Your home and the land it is on do not count as assets. Most cars do not count toward your resources. The asset limit is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
You must satisfy all of these elements to be eligible for SSI benefits.
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Is It Legal To Work While On Disability
Yes, its even encouraged. The Social Security Administration helps disabled people find employment through work-incentive programs. How much a disabled worker is allowed to work and earn depends on several factors, and the two primary forms of assistance Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance work very differently.
Disability Benefits For Veterans
You may be eligible for disability benefits if you’re on disability from your service in the Canadian Armed Forces or Merchant Navy.
You may get social assistance payments from:
- your province or territory
- your First Nation
These payments will depend on your household income, savings and investments.
You may also be eligible for health-related benefits from your province or territory. These benefits may include benefits that help cover the cost of:
- medical aids or devices
How Social Security Calculates Your Benefit
The amount you receive in Social Security benefits is based on an average of your 35 highest-earning years. So if you’re earning more now than ever before, your best bet is to keep working, if that’s possible, and delay receiving benefits until age 70. You’ll then be eligible for your maximum benefit.
On the other hand, if you keep working but start taking benefits early, you may run up against the Social Security income limits. For 2021, Social Security will deduct $1 of every $2 you earn over $18,960 if you are under your full retirement age. During the year you reach full retirement age, it will deduct $1 for every $3 you earn over $50,520 until the month you reach full retirement age. After that, you’ll receive your entire benefit.
Note that any money Social Security withholds from your benefit isn’t lost forever. After you reach full retirement age, Social Security will recalculate your benefit and increase it to account for the benefits that were withheld earlier.
The reduction in Social Security benefits for people who earn over a certain amount is based only on earned income. Unearned income, such as from pensions or investments, doesn’t count.
How Do Ssdi And Social Security Retirement Work Together
SSDI pays out your full retirement benefits until you qualify to draw them under the traditional Social Security retirement scheme. Once you reach full retirement age;based on the year you were born, the SSA will automatically start your retirement benefits and cease your SSDI payments.
The SSA allows you to file for retirement benefits as early as age 62, or wait and receive your full benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. Depending on what year you were born, this may vary from 65 to 67 years old. For most people, it does not make sense to file for early retirement benefits at age 62 if you are already receiving SSDI because of a disability. Your disability payments equal your full retirement amount, and those who opt for early retirement receive reduced benefits.
Imagine that, at age 60, you suffer a back injury;leading to a disability. You are approved for SSDI benefits and you begin drawing an amount equal to your full retirement amount. When you reach age 62, nothing changes; you continue to draw your full SSDI amount. Once you reach your full retirement age, the SSA swaps you from SSDI to traditional retirement benefits. However, this occurs automatically so you will not see a break in your benefits and do not need to do anything to ensure this happens.
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Adding On The State Supplement
While the federal benefit rate is the same throughout the United States, many states add a state supplemental payment onto the federal benefit. The payment varies from $10 to $400, depending on the state. Even within your own state, the supplementary payment can vary depending on whether you are married or single and what your living arrangement is. For instance, in 2021, California adds an extra $160 to the monthly SSI payment for most people living independently with cooking facilities and $247 to those living independently without cooking facilities.
Some states pay the supplement only to those living in nursing homes. For example, Texas pays a $60 supplement to those living in a nursing home, and pays nothing to others. Similarly, Georgia pays an extra $20 to those living in nursing homes, and nothing to others. Maine pays only $10 extra, both to those living independently and those living in nursing homes.
A few states don’t pay a supplement at all, including Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
For more information, see our article on the state supplementary payment.
The Ssa Giveth And The Ssa Taketh Away
Getting approved for benefits had come as such a relief. James had heard horror stories of how it takes some applicants months or even years to get approved.
He qualified for benefits because his condition is permanent. It affects his speech and fine motor skills. He says those deficits, combined with the stereotypes about people with disabilities, have left him unable to secure a full-time job despite having a masters degree in instructional technology.
If you receive SSI or SSDI, did not file taxes in 2019 and did not receive a stimulus check this year, you can still use the IRS Non-Filer Tool until Nov. 21, 2020.;
So James does gig work because not working at all goes against his nature. Thats not who I am, he says.
But navigating Social Securitys work-related rules is very, very frustrating.
Disability benefits experts say discrimination, confusion regarding the rules and fear of benefits being cut at any time are all too common. And thats despite the official Social Security position that people on disability should work to their fullest potential.
An Extra Consideration For Ssi
Keep in mind that SSI takes into account not just your income, but your household income as well.
That means that in addition to not engaging in SGA, you also have to meet certain household income limitations to qualify for SSI.
You could be under SGA, but if your spouse or roommate is making more money than SSI allows, then you will likely not qualify for SSI.
How Much Can I Earn On Social Security Disability In 2021
Before you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, one of the many considerations youll need to make is whether disability benefits alone will provide you with enough financial support. The maximum disability benefit amount you can receive each month is $3,148. However, the average beneficiary will receive somewhere closer to $1,277 per month.
Of course, qualifying for SSDI benefits is contingent upon proving that you have a disabling condition which prevents you from making substantial income. But just because you are receiving disability benefits doesnt mean you arent allowed to generate any income. Read on to find out about 2021 SSDI income limits and how to maximize your monthly earnings and benefits.
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Myth: Why Bother I’ll Just Be Denied
Not true for everyone, says William Jarrett, a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration. While Jarrett says standards are strict, and the process is rigorous, the SSA wants to be certain the person is truly disabled and unable to work. And the rejection rate is high, he says.
”The;allowance rates for disability claims;in fiscal year 2013, the most recent data available, was around 33 percent,” he says. That means 33 percent of the applications received in fiscal year 2013 were approved.
“In my experience, people rarely get it the first time they apply,” says Melissa Proudian, an attorney in Fresno, California, whose primary focus is on Social Security;disability cases. But if you’re denied the first time around, you can appeal.
And if the administration determines that you have a true, severe disability, they pay out.