Can I Work And Collect Social Security Disability?

There is a legal presumption that you did substantial gainful work when the gross earnings (not net) are MORE THAN the following each month:

  • $1,010 in the year 2012
  • $1,040 in the year 2013
  • $1,070 in the year 2014
  • $1,090 in the year 2015
  • $1,130 in the year 2016
  • $1,170 in the year 2017
  • $1,180 in the year 2018
  • $1,220 in the year 2019
  • If you are blind the figure is $2,040 for 2019

In addition to the above, if you are self-employed, the agency looks at the VALUE of your work to the business rather than the money you earn. For example, if your hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties and responsibilities are similar to non-disabled workers in the community in a similar business, this may be found to be substantial gainful work. If you work by yourself, your services WILL be found significant. If there are other workers in the business, you will be found to provide significant services if you contribute more than half the total time required to manage the business OR you perform management services for more than 45 hours a month.

Substantial income means gross income minus normal business expenses. From net income, the value of unpaid help is deducted. Impairment related work expenses are also deducted (e.g., cost of medication, some transportation costs to and from work). What remains is the amount considered by SSA.

There is a legal presumption that you did not do substantial gainful work if you earned the same or less than the figures in section 1.

IF YOU WORK IN A FAMILY BUSINESS AND YOUR FAMILY CREATES A JOB FOR YOU, SOLELY TO PROVIDE INCOME TO YOU, AND THE FAMILY DOES NOT EXPECT YOU TO PRODUCE AT THE LEVEL OF OTHER WORKERS, THE WORK WILL NOT BE SUBSTANTIAL AND GAINFUL. THIS RULE ALSO APPLIES IF YOUR WORK IS DONE IN A SHELTERED ENVIRONMENT, OR THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT ACCOMMODATIONS MADE FOR YOU DUE TO YOUR DISABILITY.

IF YOU ARE PROVIDED A SUBSIDY IN ORDER TO WORK, some of the money earned will not be considered wages. A subsidy simply means, for example, that you require more supervision than other workers with the same job title, or you are given simpler tasks to complete than others with the same job title or pay, or you have a job coach or counselor you meet with (on a vocational rehab project, for example). Social Security can record a deduction based on the total value of this subsidy.

ASK AVARD LAW OFFICES FOR FORMS THAT YOUR EMPLOYER WILL NEED TO COMPLETE TO DOCUMENT THAT YOUR WORK IS NOT SUBSTANTIAL & GAINFUL.

TRIAL WORK PERIOD

You may still be disabled when you test your ability to work. You can work 9 months (which do not have to be consecutive months), and these months may not be looked at to determine if you are disabled. Only after you finish working 9 months will Social Security Administration look at these months to see if you were still disabled and successful at your work. You cannot have a Trial Work Period until you become ENTITLED to disability insurance benefits. You cannot have a Trial Work Period if you do work that is at the substantial gainful activity level during the 5 month waiting period for benefits. You cannot have a Trial Work Period if you do work that is substantial gainful activity within 12 months of the beginning date of your disability onset date and BEFORE the date of any notice of determination or decision finding that you are disabled. You cannot have a Trial Work Period for any month prior to the month of your application for disability benefits.

The word “SERVICES” has a legal definition. SERVICES is generally defined as activity, even if not substantial gainful activity, which is done in employment for pay or profit (but not done for therapy or training). Services performed as an EMPLOYEE beginning January 1, 2016, when your earnings in a month are more than the amount for the previous year OR the earnings in each month are $530.00 (or, if you are self-employed, the earnings are either $810.00 OR 80 hours a month). These figures may increase each year based on national average wage index records. For example, in 2005 it was $590 and in 2006 it is was $620. The Trial Work period ENDS in the month in which NEW EVIDENCE (not evidence related to any work you did) shows that you are NOT DISABLED, even though you have not worked a full 9 months. Therefore, Social Security can find that the Trial Work Period ended at ANY TIME in the trial work period if the new medical evidence shows that you are no longer disabled. If not based on medical evidence, the Trial Work Period ends after 9 months. Again, these 9 months do not have to be consecutive. When benefits end at the end of the Trial Work period, you will usually receive another three months of benefits before the cash benefits stop.

THE RE-ENTITLEMENT PERIOD

After the 9 month trial work period you can continue to test your ability to work if you have a disabling impairment. If your work is substantial gainful work, Social Security can stop your benefits.

However, if you later become unable to work again due to a disability, your benefits can be reinstated and you will not have to file a new application, and you will not need a new decision, if the following occur. Re-entitlement begins with the first month after completion of the 9 month trial work period and it ends with the earlier of: the month before the first month you are not disabled, or the last day of the 36th month after the end of the trial work period.