Social Security Disability
SSD--Can I Work and Still Get SSD?
To be eligible to collect Social Security Disability [“SSD”] benefits, you must be unable to work due to disability for a continuous period of 365 days or more. If you work (even ONE day) before 365 days or more have passed, your SSD application may be denied even if you are “medically” disabled.
Effective January 1, 2016, the law presumes that you are NOT disabled if you can work and earn $1,130 or more (gross) per month. Thus, if you work as little as one month during the initial 365 day period and earn $1,130 (gross) or more, your SSD application likely will be denied. The 2015 amount was $1,090 (gross) or more per month.
There are times when a short period of work during the initial 365 day period will NOT disqualify you from receiving SSD benefits. For example, if you try to work within the first 365 days but are physically unable to continue for more than a short period of time, Social Security can find that you had an “unsuccessful work attempt” [“UWA”]. As a general rule, an UWA will NOT adversely affect your application for SSD.
Once you have been unable to work due to disability for 365 days or more, the law encourages you to work and gives you a financial incentive to do so. Assuming that you meet the medical rules, you can work, earn an UNLIMITED amount of money, and still receive SSD benefits for a period of up to 12 months from the date that you start working. This incentive is commonly known as a “Trial Work Period” [“TWP”]. Effective January 1, 2016, when you work and earn at least $810/month (gross), you have used one of the available TWP months. The 2015 amount was $780/month.
If your goal is to work but keep collecting SSD indefinitely into the future, keep your earnings BELOW $810/month (gross). Gross means before taxes.
Keep in mind that there are ~4.3 weeks in a month. Thus, to stay UNDER $810/month (gross), your weekly earnings before taxes must be LESS THAN $185/week ($810/month x 12 months/year = $9,720 divided by 52 weeks/year = $186.92/week).
The “working while disabled” rules are tricky. Moreover, working can affect your receipt of Long Term Disability and similar benefits.
While we encourage you to work, we urge you to contact us BEFORE you commit to any work activity WHILE YOUR SSD CASE IS PENDING. We want you to understand clearly the risks and rewards of working based on the status of your SSD case at the time.
If you are already collecting SSD, consider contacting the WIPA Project for FREE help.
Getting Help FREE From the WIPA Project
The Western New York Incentives Planning and Assistance [“WIPA”] Project is funded by the Social Security Administration [“SSA”]. WIPA provides FREE advice to SSD beneficiaries who are either working or interested in going to work.
WIPA advisors are not employed by SSA. They assist beneficiaries in understanding SSA rules and navigating through the intricate SSA system with respect to working and collecting SSD.
What Can WIPA Advisors do for you?
- Provide you detailed information and advice about how work affects SSD & Medicare
- Obtain and/or retain Medicaid and Medicare health insurance while working
- Use work incentives, in some cases, to keep SSD as work activity increases
- Obtain funding for items you need to work like tuition, a vehicle, or a computer
- Determine eligibility for other government benefits, such as food stamps
- Avoid overpayment(s) of disability benefits
How to Reach WIPA
Contact Julie Marks of the Advocacy Center of Rochester, 590 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620. Telephone & TDD—(585) 546-1700 or (800) 650-4967. Fax—(585) 546-7069. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.