Can I Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?
The short answer is “Yes.” Remember that there are two types of social
security disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is payable to those individuals who have worked a sufficient number of
years and therefore contributed a sufficient amount of premium into the
disability program to receive the insured benefits. Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) is payable to individuals who have not worked a sufficient
amount of time to receive the insurance benefits.
Social Security wants to encourage people to work. A person on SSI is not
penalized by the first $80.00 of income received each month. After the first
$80.00, fifty percent (50%) of whatever they earn is subtracted from the
benefits they receive.
A person receiving SSDI can earn $1,000.00 per month (2011 level)
without the income affecting his/her SSDI benefits. Income which exceeds
$1,000, in most cases, will be regarded as Substantial Gainful Activity. Even a
person who earns in excess of $1,000.00 can still receive full SSDI benefits if
his/her income can be reduced to under $1,000.00 by impairment related expenses
such as out-of-pocket costs for necessary medication.
Most people applying for disability benefits have significant physical or
psychological problems and would prefer to be working instead of receiving the
limited disability payment. The Social Security Administration recognizes this
and encourages them to try to return to work. There is a nine month trial work
period where a person on SSDI can be working full-time and earning a full income
while continuing to receive SSDI benefits. The trial work period may result in
an unsuccessful work attempt, after which benefits will continue. The work
attempt need not be in consecutive months, but can be spaced out over a number
of work attempts.
Many individuals are stricken with an illness, yet decide to try to work
through the problem. In some cases their illness is so severe that most people
would not anticipate their continuing, yet they do. There is a five month
waiting period after the onset of a disability before Social Security benefits
can begin to be paid. If a person works through their illness for a number of
months and then is forced to stop, the onset date can go back to a time when the
person was still working, which includes the five month waiting period. That
period of work will be considered an unsuccessful work attempt that would be
subtracted from the nine month trial work period.
Information regarding work activity while receiving Social Security
Disability benefits was featured in the OWM Legal Talk program that appeared on
PCTV for the month of November, 2011. This and other Legal Talk programs can be
viewed on our website at www.owmlaw.com/legal_talk/legal_talk.php.
Other programs on Social Security were also featured on Legal Talk in July of
2011 and July of 2010. Please visit our video
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our own – Ryan A.
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Costello was elected to a new four-year term as Chester County Commissioner and
Jim Kovaleski is a new member of the Phoenixville Borough Council. Please see
the articles from The
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