Can I work while appealing an unfavorable Social Security decision?

Can I work while appealing an unfavorable Social Security decision?

Disability applicants are often confused about the ability to work while awaiting their disability decision. Most disability applicants are certain that they are not allowed to perform any kind of work while waiting on the disability decision. This is not true. Social Security does understand that bills do not stop coming when a person files for disability and that many applicants may find it necessary to work. This will be even more likely, of course, if a person will get SSI disability (which is very low) or a small monthly SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefit.

You should not worry about work as long as you understand a couple of basic things. Before I list those, I should say that you should contact Social Security for a discussion with a claims specialist to understand how work can affect eligibility for Social Security Disability. You will be informed of the monthly SGA earnings limit and any other possible effects of work with regard to your continued eligibility for SSDI.

Now, here is what you should keep in mind: 1) Any time you begin work activity, let Social Security know. This is critical to avoid having the possibility of an overpayment. Second, always be very mindful of the monthly gross earned income limit for work activity. This is important...always.

It, of course, can make working complicated because many employers will have difficulty understanding that you cannot work and earn more than a certain amount. And it may be that you will not necessarily want an employer or other employees to know about your disability status (it is no one's business but yours and Social Security's). It will always be up to you personally to make sure that you do not endanger your monthly benefit so you should exercise caution especially if you have a schedule that involves fluctuating hours or fluctuating pay amounts. Never go over the SGA amount. In fact, it is usually very wise to stay considerably under this gross monthly earned income limit to protect yourself.

Back to the question of working while you do a disability appeal, generally speaking, you can work while you appeal an unfavorable decision as long as you do not go over the monthly 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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