As useful as social security disability benefits may be, some people need more money to help cover their basic living expenses. This might require you to work, even if it’s only part-time. However, you might be asking yourself if you can work on disability. In this article, we’ll discuss the Social Security Administration’s rules about working while on disability.

Can You Work on Disability?

Yes! The Social Security Administration allows disability recipients to work while receiving either social security disability insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. However, the Social Security Administration has specific rules about working for both types of benefits.

Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

In most cases, SSDI recipients cannot earn more than $1,260 per month (or $2,110 if blind) and continue to receive disability payments. The only exception to this rule is if recipients go back to work to test their ability to re-enter the workforce, which the SSA considers a trial work period.

Trial Work Period

If a recipient decides to work while receiving benefits and earns more than $910 in one month, the SSA considers it to be a trial work month. This is the beginning of the nine-month trial work period. During this period, recipients still receive full benefits even if they make more than $1,260 per month.

Once the trial work period ends, recipients receive SSDI payments for any month where their income drops below $1,260 in a three-year period. In addition, if your SSDI payments stop after your trial work period, the SSA allows your benefits to be reinstated without filing a new application if you stop working again due to your disability. This SSA makes this expedited reinstatement available for up to five years after your trial work period.

Working While Receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

As long as your wages don’t exceed the SSA’s income limit for SSI, you can work while on disability. However, the SSA reduces your monthly benefit pay based on your income.

The SSA’s income limit for SSI benefits is $783 per month. If you earn more than this limit through a job while on SSI, the SSA deducts $0.50 for every dollar you earn from your monthly benefit amount. If your income only comes from your job and not investments or other assets, the first $85 of your income isn’t included in the reduction.

For example, if you make $1,000 per month at your job, the SSA only counts the first $915 towards your reduction. Then, they deduct $0.50 for every dollar of your countable income. Thus, if you divide $915 by two, you get $457.50, which is the amount of money deducted from your monthly benefit amount.

Just like SSDI, if your SSI payments stop because you earn too much but you lose your job due to your disability, you have five years to ask the SSA to reinstate your benefits without a new application.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses

If you have any work-related expenses due to your disability, the SSA usually deducts them from your countable income. For example, if you need special transportation to get to work such as a van with a wheelchair ramp, the SSA takes the cost and subtracts it from your income when deciding your benefits amount. Counseling services also count as impairment-related work expenses.

Rules for Self-Employment

For those who are self-employed and receive disability benefits, income isn’t the most accurate measurement of how much they work. The SSA has specific rules for individuals who are self-employed or do freelance work. For example, the SSA considers any month where a self-employed SSDI recipient works more than 80 hours to be a trial work month.

Do I Need to Report My Wages to the Social Security Administration?

Recipients of SSI or SSDI must report the following to the SSA:

  • The beginning and end date for any job while receiving benefits;
  • Changes to pay scale, hours worked, or duties; and
  • Impairment-related work expenses.

In addition, you must report all monthly earnings to the SSA. Typically, the SSA allows recipients to report their earnings using several methods. If you report your wages by phone, you must do it before the 6th of every month. However, if you decide to mail or bring in a pay stub to a local SSA office, it must be done by the 10th.

These aren’t the only ways to report your income to the SSA. Recipients of SSI can report their wages using the SSA’s phone app, while SSDI recipients may use their account on the SSA’s website to report earnings.

Have Questions About Working While on Disability? Contact GAR Disability Advocates Today

We understand that many disability applicants wonder if they can work while on disability. It often takes a long time to get approved by the SSA for benefits, especially if you decide to file alone. At GAR Disability Advocates, we take care of the entire disability application process so you don’t have to.

Our advocates help you file your initial claim, manage your reconsideration appeals, and represent you at a disability hearing if necessary. In addition, they only work on a contingency basis, meaning you only have to pay if the SSA approves your SSI or SSDI benefits. To learn more about working while on disability or to apply for benefits with an advocate, give us a call at 201-720-1434 or fill out our online form for a free evaluation of your claim.