Can you work while filing for disability?
Many people considering a Social Security Disability application decide not to do so because they are unable to survive with no income while they wait for a decision. Do not let this stop you from considering a disability application because, in actuality, you are able to have some earnings when filing for disability.
Social Security has a monthly earnings limit known as SGA that will allow for a disability application while working. The SGA limit is an amount of monthly earnings that Social Security determines to be self-supporting. If you are working but earning under SGA, you will be able to file for disability and receive a medical disability decision. If you are earning over SGA your disability claim will be denied without ever being sent for a disability determination.
There is one exception to the SGA rule and that involves special considerations that an employer provides to a person to allow them to continue working. For example, if your employer allows you more time off, extra breaks, less production, etc, so that you can continue working, you may be receiving special considerations.
Disability claims that involve specials considerations have to be evaluated to determine if the work is truly SGA. As part of their evaluation process, Social Security contacts your employer to complete a questionnaire that asks them to compare the worth of your work with other employees doing the same job. If you are earning $2000.00 a month but your employer states that your work is actually only worth 50% of the value of work performed by other employees, Social Security will only consider your monthly earnings to be $1000.00.
Why does Social Security do this? Your employer is actually making it possible for you to have income and if they did not help you by giving you special considerations you would not be employed. In the example I have just provided, you would be earning $2000.00 but your earnings would be counted as $1000.00 and that would cause you to be under the 2018 and 2019 SGA limits (see SGA limit). Meaning you would be able to collect disability benefits each month.
In summary, you are allowed to work and file a disability claim. If you are under SGA you continue working while a decision is being made. And, even if your earnings are over SGA, you may be able to continue working until a decision is made provided that Social Security determines that employer special considerations are enabling you to continue work and that the value of your work is actually under the SGA limit.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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