Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security 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 be 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).

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

Related pages:

When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Who is eligible for SSI Disability?
Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Can you apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
Inability to Work and Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
Are SSD and SSI disability cases decided the same way in terms of Eligibility?
Is the Medical Criteria to Get Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits hard?
Criteria for how Social Security Disability is Awarded
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process

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