How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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.

Essential Questions

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Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

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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

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

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Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

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SSI disability for children with ADHD

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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?

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

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.