How Much Does Social Security Deduct From my Benefits if I work?

"If I Receive SSD Benefits and I Begin To Work And Earn Below the SGA Limit, How Much Does Social Security Deduct From my Benefits?"

The simple answer to this question is that Social Security never deducts any amount from an individual's benefit for work activity. However, Social Security does look at all work activity carefully.

Even if you are earning less than the SGA limit, you may still be using your nine trial work months. The monthly earnings amount is lower than the SGA limit; any month your earnings meet or exceed the trial work amount will be counted as one of your nine trial work months. Trial work months can be earned anytime during a five-year period; they do not have to be consecutive.

You may be wondering why this might be important to someone who is earning below the monthly SGA amount. When you have used the nine trial work months, any month you earn SGA or over, you will not be entitled to your benefit for that month.

Additionally, if you have used you trial work period, the first month that you earn over the SGA limit--even if it is by a small amount--your extended period of eligibility begins.

The extended period of eligibility, or EPE, is a thirty-six month period in which an individual can earn in excess of SGA (your disability benefits will be suspended for whatever months you are working over the SGA limit) yet if they have to stop work they can contact the Social Security administration and be reinstated.

Once this thirty-six month extended period of eligibility ends, your disability benefit could be terminated if you earn over SGA.

If you have gone back to work and you are not working over the SGA limit, your disability benefits will continue to be paid each month without reduction. Staying under the SGA limit does not guarantee that you will always be entitled to disability benefits.

All disability claims have a medical diary date for a continuing disability review, or CDR. During a CDR, Social Security reviews your disability claim to determine if you have medically improved.

Continuing disability reviews are a fact of life for disability beneficiaries and they occur whether you work or not. However, work activity can be used as an indicator of medical improvement in some cases. I would advise any disability beneficiary to be careful about their work activity and to watch their gross monthly earnings, especially if they are not sure they are capable of sustaining substantial work activity.

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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