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Can You Work Part-Time on Social Security Disability?

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The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) system is notoriously rigid, so many people wonder if they can work part-time on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

As a social security disability lawyer with over a decade of legal experience in disability insurance, I often get this question. The answer, unfortunately, is not straightforward. It depends on other factors, including the type of social security benefits you receive and your employment history.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the possibility of working part-time while you are on SSDI benefits.

Quick Summary

  • The SSA will analyze your work history to see if you have the necessary skills and experience to make a substantial productive effort.
  • The amount of time you can work while still receiving SSDI benefits is decided by your ability to do a substantial gainful activity. 
  • Some work incentives benefit those receiving SSDI or SSI exclusively, while others cater to both types of beneficiaries.

What Are the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Limitations?

A lawyer holding a law bookThe Substantial Gainful Activity limitations are the amount of money you can earn from working (after taxes) while receiving disability benefits. The SGA is the best way to determine if you are allowed to work part-time while on SSDI [1]

You need to make sure your income doesn't exceed the SGA limits.

Another factor is determining if your pay is more than the SGA, which is the impairment-related work expense.

When you have a disability and work part-time, the possibility of the work you are producing and the amount you are being paid is not equal. In this case, you can deduct impairment-related work expenses (IRWE) from your pay. 

Are There SGA Limit Exceptions to Social Security?

Yes, there are SGA limit exceptions to social security. Every year, the SGA limits are recalibrated to match national trends in average wages. Some work incentives help those receiving SSDI or SSI exclusively to overcome these limitations.

Social Security may still find you disabled if you can only work part-time. However, if your regular work before applying for disability was part-time work and Social Security finds that you can still do this level of work, they may deny your claim.

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When Do Work Hours Matter for SSDI?

A lawyer holding a laptop while standing upWorking hours matter for SSDI when your gross monthly income is $1,350. You can still work and get benefits if your gross income is below the SGA limit.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your employment history to see if you have the skills and experience to do an SGA. They will also look at how many hours you work and how much you get paid.

The SSA will also look at your medical records to see if your health has improved enough that you can now do a substantial gainful activity.

If approved for SSDI, you will receive your benefits until your condition improves and you can return to work full-time.

Risks of Working While Claiming Social Security Disability Benefits

Although you need to earn money, getting approved for disability benefits can take a while. If your case is more complicated than usual, working may not be the best idea when you first apply for benefits.

Suppose an administrative law judge understands you can work many hours every week. In that case, they may be less inclined to believe that your medical condition is so severely limited that you are disabled.

Can You Have a Part-Time Job After You Receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

A lawyer writing down on a notebook on his office tableYes, you can work part-time after receiving social security disability insurance benefits; however, the rules about working part-time change a bit.

You cannot collect disability benefits if your income exceeds the caps. If you are participating in one of Social Security's work incentive programs, you may still be able to get benefits. 

There are different work incentive programs for people who get SSI and for people who get SSDI. You will get a trial work period of nine months, during which you can do more than the SGA limit. The trial work period allows you to attempt to return to employment while still receiving the full SSDI amount.

SSI benefits are based on how much money you need to live on, not how much work history you have. If you exceed your SSI income limit and make more than $1,700, the government will reduce your SSI payment to zero.

"You may be eligible for these social security programs in various ways. For example, you might qualify to receive disability benefits if you participate in a vocational rehabilitation program. This is for people who medically recover and return to work but continue getting subsidies to become self-sufficient."
- John Colbert, Attorney

FAQs

How Will Working Affect My Disability Benefits and Health Care Coverage?

Working can affect your disability benefits and health coverage based on your specific situation. You should contact your state's disability office or the Social Security Administration to get more information on how working can affect your benefits.

What Happens to My Social Security Disability Benefits if I Go Back to Work?

If you go back to work, your social security disability benefits will eventually end. However, you may be able to participate in the Ticket to Work program, which can help you keep your health care coverage.

Do You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

So, in conclusion, yes, you can work while receiving SSDI benefits. However, it must be within strict limits and not exceed your SGA. At Schmidt & Clark law firm, our social security disability lawyers can help you calculate your work credits and determine if you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. 

We're with you every step of the way; from reviewing initial disability claims to appeal processes, our team has the experience to get results. Contact us for a free legal consultation session here.


References:

  1. https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html

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