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The Social Security List of Impairments
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Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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).








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Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

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What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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Related pages:

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Denial by an ALJ at a Disability Hearing
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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?









For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.