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

How many hours can you work if you are receiving social security disability?

Social Security is not concerned with the number of hours that a person may work, or whether or not their employment is part-time or full-time. The emphasis is on gross earnings received in a given month.

Typically, when I address the issue of how much a person can work and earn and still receive social security disability, the answer is in the context of filing for disability. So let me address that first.

If you are filing for disability and are earning at least a substantial and gainful income (referred to as SGA, or substantial gainful activity), you will not be able to qualify for disability benefits.

Why? Because working at the SGA level carries with it the assumption that a person is not, in fact, disabled.

Working and filing for disability

What happens if you apply for disability and are working and earning a substantial and gainful income? You will be given what is known as a technical denial.

A technical denial occurs when it is obvious that an individual is simply not eligible to be considered for disability benefits due to non-medical reasons. In other words, when a technical denial is issued due to income or resources (assets), then the claimant's case never undergoes a medical evaluation (i.e. medical records are not gathered or reviewed).

What happens if you have already filed for disability and then either increase your work earnings to the substantial gainful level, or go back to work with earnings at this level? As a disability examiner for social security, I ran into this scenario several times. All work on the case simply stops and the case is "denied for SGA" and returned to the social security field office where it originated.

Working when you already get disability

Working and earning more than a certain amount (the SGA amount) is treated this way for an individual who is applying for disability. However, for someone who is already receiving disability, it is treated another way. A person who is receiving social security disability is given nine trial work periods. These are months in which an individual can attempt to return to work, earn money, and still receive disability benefits.

A person who returns to work must, of course, notify social security that they have done so (never make the mistake of failing to report work activity and earnings since this can possibly result in an overpayment and a cessation of benefits).

Once work activity has begun, the individual is entitled to receive nine trial work months. Nine months may not sound like a lot; however, the way social security treats the issue of trial work is fairly liberal and open-ended.

First of all, not every month that you work is considered one of the nine months. You have to actually earn a specified minimum amount defined as "services". Secondly, the trial work months do not have to be consecutive. They can be nonconsecutive and can actually occur in a rolling 60 month period. This gives extraordinary flexibility to an individual who is receiving disability benefits and is attempting to try working again.

However, even for the person for actually runs through their 9 trial work months, eligibility for disability benefits is not affected unless one's monthly gross earnings become equal to, or greater, than the SGA amount.

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

Related pages:

Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Applying for disability, medical conditions
Permanent disability benefits
How do you appeal if you are denied for Social Security disability or SSI?
Disability requirements and how to file in North Carolina
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
SSD, SSI, and medium, light, and sedentary work
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
How many hours can you work if you are receiving social security disability?
Appearing at the ALJ Hearing for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
What medical conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives