Balancing work and disability benefits can be delicate. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reserves disability benefits for those unable to sustain themselves through work due to sickness or injury. Earning a significant income may jeopardize your classification as disabled. 

However, understanding the work limitations and providing accurate information to the SSA can allow for part-time work. The specifics vary based on the disability benefits program, such as SSDI or SSI, and navigating this terrain requires a strategic approach.

What Are The Work Limitations On SSDI: Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)?

When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must demonstrate that you’re not engaged in “substantial and gainful activity.” 

Substantial work implies performing duties comparable to your pre-disability capacity, while gainful refers to earning enough to sustain yourself without relying on social security disability benefits

Failure to prove incapacity for substantial and gainful work can result in denying your application. Furthermore, if your work capabilities improve, the SSA may transition you from SSDI benefits.

How Much Amount Counts As Substantial And Gainful?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) income based on the earnings subject to taxes. 

For non-blind individuals in 2023, the monthly maximum allowable gross income is $1,470, while blind individuals can earn up to $2,460 per month and still receive disability payments. 

It’s essential to note the distinction between gross and net income; SSA considers the income before deductions like taxes. If your earnings approach the SGA limit, it may adversely impact your disability benefits case.

Can You Make Money Without Working And Still Qualify For SSDI?

You can still qualify for SSDI even if you earn income passively, like being a landlord or investing in the stock market. However, if your income from active work surpasses the substantial gainful activity (SGA) threshold, you may no longer be considered disabled. It’s important to note that certain income sources, such as:

  • Savings
  • Your spouse’s earnings
  • Possessions like your home and car

All above are not counted as SGA and won’t affect your benefits.

What Are The Income And Asset limits On SSI?

To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must have resources totaling less than $2,000 and earn less than $914 monthly. If your income or resources exceed these limits, your eligibility for benefits may be jeopardized. 

Resources include the following:

  • Cash
  • Investment accounts
  • Inheritances
  • Other items that could be converted into cash
  • Passive income from family or friends, vacation homes, second vehicles, and recreational items like RVs or boats may be considered as countable resources. 

However, your home, primary vehicle, and essential household goods are not counted towards these limits. SSI focuses on financial need rather than work history when determining eligibility.

What Will Happen If I Am Already Getting Benefits And Start To Work?

Once you begin your journey with Social Security, you’ll be assigned a caseworker from the SSA. This individual is there to assist you in navigating the intricacies of the SSA system and offer support.  (Learn more on how to apply for the disability benefits?)

Engaging in a conversation with your caseworker about the possibility of returning to work is crucial. They can provide valuable resources and guide you on accurately reporting any income to ensure a seamless continuation of your benefits. 

Moreover, your caseworker may introduce you to the Ticket to Work program, which offers career counseling, work training, and job placement opportunities. If the prospect of returning to work is on your mind, but you’re uncertain about where to start or what career path to pursue, discussing the Ticket to Work program with your caseworker is a wise step.

What Will Happen If You Try To Work But Cannot Continue?

When you explore the possibility of returning to work, either at your previous job or trying something new, it’s referred to as a trial work period (TWP). It’s important to note a few key aspects of a TWP:

  • TWP is exclusive to individuals on SSDI, not SSI.
  • Earning over $970 in a single month is considered a month of work during your TWP.
  • Your SSDI benefits remain unaffected until you complete nine months of work over 60 months.

While it might seem like numerous rules and disability laws are associated with working while on Social Security Disability, once you become familiar with the program’s rules, whether SSDI or SSI, it becomes much more straightforward.

Need Legal Help with Your Disability Claim? Contact An Attorney

A Social Security Disability Lawyer can significantly assist you in your disability claim by navigating the complex legal processes, gathering necessary evidence, and ensuring your case meets the stringent criteria for approval. They provide valuable expertise to increase your chances of a successful outcome and help protect your rights throughout the intricate disability application and appeals process.