Can you earn an income while on social security disability? This is an issue that comes up quite a bit with people who are applying for disability, mostly because the application process from when you apply to when you’re sitting in front of a judge can take anywhere from 18 to as long as 30 months before that judge issues his decision.
That’s a long time to wait with no job while you’re waiting on Social Security to make that decision. A lot of people want to know how am I supposed to put food on the table? How am I supposed to pay my rent? How am I supposed to pay for these doctors I’m supposed to go to? I get asked quite a bit, “Am I allowed to work.” So, let’s talk about earning an income while applying for or on SSD or SSDI.
Can I work while I apply for SSD?
The short answer to that is yes. You have to work to eat. I understand people have to work to eat and pay rent. You are allowed to work. The Social Security standard is what’s known as substantial gainful activity. They say you can work; you just can’t cross our threshold. Their threshold for 2017 is $1,170 per month, so as long as you don’t cross that threshold, then you’re okay.
Now, will it help your case?
- No. It will not help your case.
Will it injure a claim if you’re working?
- No. You’re allowed to work, but it’s certainly not going to help your case. The judge is going to say, “Look, you’re working. Why can’t you just work a little bit more?” It’s not going to help us out, but you need to work if you have to eat and pay bills. We understand. You got to do what you got to do.
How Much Money Can You Earn While on Disability?
The amount you’re allowed to earn, $1,170. That’s about $272 per week, that’s before any taxes come out. That’s the gross amount on your check before they pull out all those taxes. That’s about eight hours a day, three days a week, $11 an hour, so you do that, you’ll be okay.
Can You Get Kicked off Disability if You Earn too Much?
Yes! You earn $12 an hour in that scenario? That’s $288 a week or $1,238 a month which is $68 too much. So, eight hours a day, three days a week, $12 an hour is too much. Social Security would kick you out of the system. They wouldn’t even look at your medical records to find out if you’re disabled. They just throw you out.
I always tell people, “Don’t work more than three days a week. If you’re earning more than 10 or 11 bucks an hour, you’re going to have work less than that even,” so eight hours a day, three days a week, $10-11 an hour. That’s about the max you’re going to want to do it.
Once again, the threshold for 2017 is $1,170 per month, which is about $272 per week. Keep in mind that there are about 4.3 weeks in a month, so be aware of it and don’t exceed $1170 per month. Keep at or below those numbers, and Social Security will proceed with determining whether or not you are disabled. Cross that threshold, that red line, and they’ll throw your claim out. Do not cross that line, not even once.
What happens after I win?
The next question that comes up is “The judge finds me disabled, can I keep working?” The answer to that is yes, same rules apply.
If it’s Social Security Disability Insurance, then yes you can keep working, same numbers, just keep it under about $272 per week. You’ll be fine. You have to keep Social Security updated. You have to let them know how much you’re earning. They have a right to know, so the eight hours a day, three days a week, 10-11 bucks an hour, you should be fine.
If you have not been working while you’re applying, Social Security has what’s called the Ticket to Work program. You can go to any Social Security office, and they’ll help you find work. There are programs that can get you back in school. If you’re younger, you want to get retrained, you want to learn how to do something else, you want to get back into some kind of simple job that you’re interested in still getting out of the house and doing some work, Social Security has programs for that. They’ll help you out.
Can I work while getting supplemental security income?
The other program that you may be eligible for is called Supplemental Security Income. SSI is different from Social Security Disability Insurance – they are two totally different programs.
Understanding SSI and Your Paychecks
If you are on SSI and you are earning an income, Social Security will take 50 cents of every dollar that you earn.
If you’re on SSI and you’re getting $600 a month and you go out and earn $600 extra, Social Security will take $300 out of your check, so you’ll get $600 from your employer, your $600 Social Security check will be cut to 300, and your total monthly income will be $900. It is still more than you were going to get from just SSI, but it will be reduced. Just know if you’re on SSI, you can work, but they will reduce your check.
If you’re on SSDI, you can work and they will not reduce your check. SSDI is not reduced by earning income. Just something to note.
How much will my monthly cash benefit be?
Speaking of amounts, we get asked all the time is “how much is my monthly cash benefit going to be?” The answer to that is depends on how much you’ve earned over your lifetime, and particularly the last few years. The average Social Security check is about $1,166 a month. That amount for Social Security disability insurance can be anywhere from $1 all the way up to $2,639, depending on your past earnings. You can get additional benefits if you have dependents, so if you have children they can get additional money coming in. That’s in addition to what money you’re getting, so it can be larger than your individual check.
If you want to know the exact amount, you have to go online. Social Security used to send out the benefit statement once a year. They stopped doing that. They’re supposed to do it every four years. I’m not sure how good they are at that even, but you can go online to ssa.gov. You sign up. You get a username and password, and you can always check your benefit statement. which you should be doing, especially if you’re getting 1099s or you’re self-employed. Go on and make sure that your taxes are being properly credited to your account so that when you
You should be checking your benefit statement every year, especially if you’re getting 1099s or you’re self-employed. Go on and make sure that your taxes are being properly credited to your account so that when you go, if you ever need to apply for disability or retirement, make sure that your retirement is getting properly credited. You don’t want to turn full retirement age and Social Security says, “Sorry, you haven’t been paying taxes. There’s no money in the till.”
Go on, check your statement. They’ll tell you how much you would be eligible for if you became disabled. They’ll tell you how much you’re eligible for in retirement. They’ll tell you how much your child benefits are, the maximum family benefit, how much your children will get if you became disabled, how much your spouse would get if you passed away, so it’s definitely worth going on and checking that.
Have more questions? Talk to a social security disability attorney!
If you have any other questions, give us a call. We have free no-obligation consultations, and my name’s Antonio Bruni. I do the Social Security work here. I’m happy to speak to you. Give us a call at (800) 848-6168
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