Has Anyone Won Their Social Security Disability Benefits While They Had A Job?

"I was working in construction at the time and they rejected me the first time. Then they noticed my injury, so I said I lost my job because of my new disability, I need the benefits, and I need the money. Beyond my drama, I have been receiving Social Security since."

First, its pretty obvious that Social Security does not award disability benefits simply because someone claims to have a disability. Substantiation through medical record documentation is a requisite. And an individual's need for money and benefits, though natural and normal, is not a consideration in the evaluation process..

Secondly, not all injuries are considered severe enough to qualify for Social Security Disability programs. For instance, even if an individual has a severe injury, if the individual is expected to recover in fewer than twelve months, they will be denied for disability on the basis of durational requirements.

The Social Security definition of disability holds that a claimant must have a mental or medical condition that has prevented them from performing substantial gainful work activity (each year, Social Security determines a monthly earnings limit that it considers to be substantial gainful activity (SGA) and if an individual earns more than that amount their claim will be denied no matter what their injury or condition may be) for twelve months, or is expected to prevent them from performing SGA for twelve continuous months.

Thirdly, an individual does not have to cease all work activity when filing for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income disability. Even if an individual is working but they are working less hours and not earning over the monthly SGA amount, they may still qualify for disability should they be determined to be medically disabled.

If an individual has applied for both Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or just SSI disability alone, they may have to meet other resource and income limits to qualify for SSI disability benefits.

Lastly, yes, some individuals have won their Social Security Disability benefits while they had a job. However, these individuals had to meet all medical requirements to be found medically disabled and their work earnings have had to be under the SGA monthly limits to be eligible for Social Security Disability.

Basically, the intent of this individual's question can be addressed in this fashion:

1) If you are working and earning at least a substantial and gainful income when you apply for disability, you will be denied on the basis of SGA.

2. You can apply for disability if you are working as long as your earnings are under the SGA limit for that year.

3. Keep in mind, however, that the disability process is to some extent subjective; meaning that even if your earnings are under the allowable limit, the mere fact that you are working while you apply for disability may influence the outcome of your case either at the disability hearing level or one of the earlier levels in the process.

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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