What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Contrary to what most people believe, "some work activity" does not necessarily rule out Social Security eligibility, or even continued disability benefit entitlement (for those who were previously approved and have been receiving benefits).
However, there is no denying that work activity can be problematic for individuals who are working while they are considering an application for disability. Work activity can also pose problems for disability beneficiaries who wish to work to supplement their disability benefits by going back to work at some level.
For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to address A) work activity and potential disability eligibility as it relates to a disability application and B) work activity and the affect it has on disability entitlement.
First, if you are considering an application for disability and you are working, your eligibility for Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits depends upon the amount that you earn each month. These monthly earnings are counted as a gross amount of earnings, not a net amount. Social Security sets an amount of monthly earnings that it considers to equate with substantial work activity, or SGA each year.
When an individual files an application for disability and they are earning gross monthly wages over the SGA limit, without any kind of special considerations (concessions such as longer breaks, less than normal work productivity, or even more time off) from their employer, their disability claim will be denied for the performance of SGA prior to being sent to DDS for a medical determination. Which means, of course, that when a case is denied on the basis of SGA (i.e. a person was working and earning too much to be considered for disability), the denial is fairly automatic as the case is never assigned to a disability examiner and no medical records are requested to evaluate the claimant's condition.
What if you are working over the Social Security SGA limit, but special considerations are being made? You may be eligible for SSI or Social Security disability benefits. Social Security would verify your alleged special considerations or subsidy with your employer. They may call your employer or mail them a subsidy questionaire to complete.
This questionaire allows your employer to address special considerations and the worth of the work you are performing for them. Depending on their answers, your disability claim may be sent for a medical disability determination or it may be denied for the performance of SGA.
Secondly, if you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and you are considering a return to work, your disability benefit may be negatively affected by your monthly earnings. Which, obviously, is why Social Security disability beneficiaries need to be careful about work activity.
Social Security allows all disability beneficiaries a nine-month trial work period to earn whatever they wish without it affecting their disability entitlement. These nine months do not have to be consecutive and they can occur any time in a five-year rolling period, so keep track of all months you earned over the SGA monthly limit.
While an individual can earn what they wish during the nine trial work months, there is a minimum amount needed for earnings to count as trial work months and that monthly amount is actually lower than the SGA amount.
If an individual is working above the SGA monthly amount in the tenth month following their trial work period (which is nine months), their benefits will suspended and they will begin a thirty-six month period of extended eligibility.
If, at anytime during those thirty-six months an individual becomes unable to earn SGA or stops work they can contact Social Security and restart their disability benefits. On the other hand, if an individual is working at or above the SGA limit after the thirty-six month period, their disability benefits will most likely be terminated.
The ability to work at an SGA level is key to all disability decisions from initial disability determinations through all continuing disability reviews (CDRs).
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Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials