Can You Work While You Are on Social Security Disability?
Social Security benefits are not just for retired people, but also for those who cannot earn sufficient money due to their disability. Sometimes, SSD benefits may not be sufficient to cover their living costs. This is why SSD recipients are allowed to work. If you can meet certain criteria, you can work and continue receiving your SSD benefits every month.
To qualify for Social Security benefits, you cannot engage in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). The Social Security Administration considers a person who is earning more than a certain amount every month engaged in SGA. You can work and continue to receive your SSD benefits if your earnings do not exceed $1,220 per month or $2,040 if you are blind.
Trial Work Period
At times, you may not know whether you can work while you are on Social Security disability. The Social Security Administration allows you to test your potential to work for nine months without compromising your SSD benefits. These nine months are considered a trial work period. During the trial work period, you will receive your SSD benefits in full no matter how much you earn.
In 2019, if you earn more than $880 in any month, it is considered a trial work month. If you are self-employed, working for more than 80 hours is considered a trial work month. The recipients of SSD benefits have a 9 month trial work period within a timeframe of 60 months.
Extended Eligibility Period
Even after the trial work period, you can still receive your SSD benefits for any month where you do not earn more than the SGA threshold. The extended period of eligibility comes after your trial work period and lasts 36 months. This period provides additional protection if you cannot work constantly due to your disability.
Even if your SSD benefits stop because of your income limit exceeds the SGA threshold, you still have 5 years to reinstate them.
Deducting Disability-Related Expenses from Your Earnings
If you are found to be earning more than the SGA threshold of $1,220 or $2,040 in the trial work period, your SSD benefits will stop. However, the Social Security Administration will deduct disability-related expenses from your income to make you eligible for SSD benefits.
For example, if you are not able to take public transportation to reach the office due to your disability and pay for taxis instead, the SSA will deduct that cost from your income, which may be enough to push you below the SGA threshold and allow you to qualify for the SSD benefits.
How Many Hours Can You Work on Disability Pension?
Working hours count for self-employed individuals. They can work up to 45 hours a month and still qualify for SSD benefits if they are not earning more than the SGA threshold or the only individual working for the business.
The Social Security Administration encourages the recipients of SSD benefits to work and has special programs for that.