Topic Categories:

Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits

Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

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Are you allowed to work at all if you get Social Security disability or SSI ?

Yes, you are allowed to work if you receive Social Security disability or receive SSI disability; but both SSI and Social Security disability have rules that govern the treatment of work activity.

If you receive Social Security Disability, you are allowed to work. However, your monthly earnings may cause your disability benefits to be suspended or even terminated. Social Security is based upon an inability to perform substantial gainful work activity because of your disabling condition; because of this Social Security closely monitors work activity.

If you are receiving Social Security disability, you should be especially careful about substantial work activity during the first twelve months of your disability entitlement. Work activity at this point could cause your disability case to be reopened to a denial of disability benefits. After the first year of entitlement, work activity can still affect your eligibility for monthly disability benefits.

Working while receiving disability benefits

Social Security disability allows a nine month trial work period during a sixty month period in which your earnings can be any amount. While you are allowed to earn as much as you want during a trial work month, Social Security has a trial work month earnings amount. The trial work earnings amount is less than the limit for monthly earnings (which is the SGA, or substantial gainful work activity amount—see the link in the second paragraph to learn more), so even if you have not gone over the SGA monthly earnings amount you may have used a trial work month.

Trial work months

Keep in mind that your nine trial work months do not have to be consecutive; they can occur any time during your a sixty month period. You are allowed only one trial work period. If you are performing substantial work activity on the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended and your thirty-six month extended period of eligibility will begin. This gives you thirty-six months in which your disability benefit can be reinstated any time your earnings are below the SGA level or you lose your job.

The EPE is a set amount of time, meaning that if you perform SGA-level work activity after the last month of the EPE, your disability benefits will be terminated. If your disability benefits are terminated you will have to file for an expedited reinstatement or a new disability claim.

If you are entitled to SSI disability, work activity is treated differently. Since SSI is a need based disability program, any amount of earnings could affect the amount of your monthly disability benefit or your eligibility for SSI disability benefits. If your SSI disability benefits remain suspended for a year or more due to work or any other reason, your SSI disability will be terminated. Once they are terminated, you have to file a new SSI disability claim if you want to pursue disability benefits again.

Social Security and SSI disability beneficiaries often create large overpayments because they do not report their work activity timely. It is advisable to report all work activity no matter how small to Social Security so that an overpayment you will have to repay can be prevented.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria