When you are going to be collecting Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you are usually able to at least work part-time, despite receiving benefits. However, there are many complicated rules, and working while collecting SSD can influence your benefits.
If you are considering a part-time job in addition to your SSD benefits, or if you are hoping to keep your part-time job while your application for benefits is being reviewed, continue reading to learn more.
As a rule, if you are able to earn or exceed a certain amount each month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assume that you are able to work and therefore ineligible for benefits. This is known as “substantial gainful activity.” As of 2018, this monthly earning limit is $1,180 ($1,970 for blind individuals).
While the SSA may technically allow you to work a substantial amount each week, doing so can often be detrimental to your case. The SSA may see that you are working a lot and making under the alloted $1,180 and believe you are capable of working and not physically disabled “enough” to require SSD benefits.
In these cases, particularly when your claim is pending approval, it would likely be in your best interest to cease working your part-time hours while waiting for the decision. But before you make any drastic changes, speak with a qualified SSD lawyer in Boston.
Once you’ve been approved for SSD and you begin collecting benefits, you are allowed what’s called a “trial work period,” in which you are able to earn more than the gainful activity limit and still receive benefits. The nine allowed months do not have to be consecutive, and you can still collect your full SSD benefits during this time, despite earning more than $1,180 per month.
In fact, the trial work period won’t count a month of work if you earn less than $850 that month. You’ll still have your nine trial months available for use. You will be required to report changes to your income to the SSA if you begin working, stop working, or work more or fewer hours each week or if your pay rate changes.
Because the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour, someone who earns only minimum wage can work thirty-two hours per week and still be under the substantial gainful activity limit, while someone who earns a significant amount higher, say $20 per hour, would have to work much less per week to meet the limit.
For this reason, the SSA will often consider the value of the work an employee performs in light of his or her disability and can sometimes count as little as half of the employee’s monthly earnings toward the gainful activity limit.
In other words, there is some gray area when it comes to working while receiving SSD benefits. That’s why it’s always helpful to speak with a lawyer about your unique situation.
Working and attempting to collect SSD benefits is what many would call “risky business.” If the SSA believes that you are able to work and don’t actually need SSD benefits, then your claim for benefits could be denied or your benefits terminated.
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of working and still obtaining your disability benefits with a Boston SSD lawyer at Joel H. Schwartz, PC, complete the quick contact form below or give our office a call at 1-800-660-2270 to set up your free claim review today.