Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are intended for people who cannot work due to a disability. Qualifying for benefits while you are employed may be impossible, depending on how much money you make.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to encourage people who are receiving benefits to try to go back to work if they can. There are programs in place that allow recipients to try to work without immediately giving up their benefits.
Because working may affect your disability income, it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer before you decide to take a job. The Ginarte law firm can help you make an informed choice. Our lawyers assist with all aspects of SSD disability cases.
For help with an SSD claim in the New York and New Jersey metro area, call us now or fill out our online contact form.
Working While Applying for SSD Benefits
When you apply for SSD benefits, the government considers whether you are currently engaged in work that pays a certain minimum amount.The SSA calls this “substantial gainful activity.”
As of 2014, a blind person may earn up to $1,800 per month before being engaged in substantial gainful activity, according to the SSA’s definition. A person who is not blind may earn up to $1,070.
If you exceed these income levels, then you most likely do not qualify for SSD benefits.
Working While Receiving SSD Benefits
If you are already receiving disability benefits, you may have the option to try to return to work. Your ability to continue receiving SSD income while holding a job varies depending on whether you receive your benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Working While Receiving SSI Benefits
If you receive SSI benefits, you may earn up to $85 per month without your benefits being affected. This limit is set after deducting all work-related expenses.
If you earn more than $85, your SSI benefits will be reduced by $0.50 for each dollar that you earn above that amount. If you earn $185, for example, the first $85 would be exempt, and you would lose $50 ($100 x $0.50) of your monthly income.
To protect people who try to return to work but discover they are unable to keep the job because of their disability, there is an expedited reinstatement period for SSI recipients. The expedited reinstatement period lasts five years and lets you resume benefits without reapplying for SSI if your income falls below $85.
Working While Receiving SSDI Benefits
SSDI is not a means-tested program like SSI. It provides more opportunities to re-enter the workforce without losing benefits.If you are receiving SSDI benefits, there is a trial work period during which you may have a job and continue to get full SSDI income.
During the trial work period, you may work for a total of nine months within a rolling 60-month period without losing any SSDI benefits. A work month is a month in which you earn at least $770 (as of 2014) or a month in which you spend 80 or more hours building or operating your own business. The earning limit is subject to annual adjustments for inflation and is calculated after business expenses.
Once you have worked for nine months, there is a 36-month extended eligibility period. During this time, you may receive SSDI benefits in any month that you don’t have substantial earnings. The substantial gainful activity limits ($1,070 or $1,800 for blind people) are used to determine if you have substantial earnings.
At the end of this 36-month period, there is a five-year expedited reinstatement period. If at any time during this period you become unable to continue working, you may resume SSDI benefits without reapplying.
Legal Help with SSD Benefits in New York and New Jersey
Before taking any actions that could change your income level or disability status, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney.
A lawyer at Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd L.L.P., can answer your SSD questions and help to ensure you get the benefits you need.