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

Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?

Most people think that when an individual files an application for Social Security disability they cannot be working; however this is not true (though it is true that the ability to work plays an important rule in all disability determinations including disability appeals).

The definition of disability for the Social Security Administration, in terms of how it relates to work activity, is as follows: any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has prevented an individual from performing substantial gainful activity (basically, meaning work activity that pays a livable wage) for twelve continuous months, or which is expected to prevent them from performing substantial gainful activity for twelve months.

Notice that the definition states substantial gainful activity, not work. Substantial gainful activity is a monthly earnings limit that Social Security sets each year as an amount of earnings that it considers being self-supporting.

Consequently, if an individual is working, but is earning under the SGA monthly earnings limit, it will not cause their initial disability claim, or their appeal, to be denied. Likewise, it will not negatively affect an individual who is already receiving SSD or SSI disability benefits.

Social Security must be notified of any work activity so that the work activity can be evaluated to make sure that the disability claimant is not exceeding the SGA limit. There are certain exceptions to the concrete SGA monthly limit.

For example, some individuals are earning over the monthly earnings amount but their employer is subsidizing their employment by giving special consideration that allows them to maintain their employment. Special considerations might be more rest periods, more time off, or even help with their job duties.

If an employer is subsidizing a claimants work, they are asked by Social Security to complete a form indicating what the considerations are, and the worth of the disability applicant's work when compared to non-disabled employees. If their work is worth fifty percent of what they are earning, their earnings will only be counted as fifty percent of the reported monthly earnings, and this may keep the disability claimant under the SGA earnings limit.

If a disability claimant's case is approved and they have worked while their disability claim or appeals were being evaluated, their work may counted as some of their trial work months (Trial work months are months in which a person may attempt a return to work. Disability benefit recipients get nine trial work months and during these months they may earn over the SGA limit without it negatively impacting their benefits).

Disability claimants and disability beneficiaries should always be very careful about work activity. If a disability claimant wins disability on appeal, their disability case may be reopened and denied if they have performed SGA-level work activty during the five month waiting period or during the twelve months following their disability onset (when they state they became unable to work at a substantial and gainful level due to their impairment).

It is imperative that a disability claimant or disability beneficiary keep track of their earnings so that they remain eligible for disability benefits.

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

Related pages:

Are You Allowed to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is an unsuccessful work attempt?
If my medical condition keeps me from working will I get Social Security disability?
Canít Work In My Old Job, How Does Social Security Disability Consider This?
Social Security Disability And Trial Work Months: You are allowed to Work
Medical Disability - How does Social Security view your work and medical records
Is there a Maximum I can Work and Make if I am on SSD or SSI Disability Benefits?
Working while getting Disability - Is it Possible?
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Can I work without it affecting my social security disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply for disability?
Will working part-time affect my SSD?
Working while on Social Security Disability and Not Reporting
What is SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity)?
If I Apply For Disability And Go Back To Work, Do I Need To Report This?
Are you allowed to work at all if you get Social Security disability or SSI?

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