Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Working and Disability - Are You Allowed to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI?

You are allowed to work while receiving social security disability or SSI, and you are allowed to work while having initiated applying for benefits.

In the case of a pending claim, i.e. you have filed a disability application, you can do this as long as your earnings do not exceed the earnings threshold for the SGA limit. SGA stands for substantial gainful activity and it corresponds to a specific dollar amount that you cannot exceed. If your gross monthly earnings exceed this amount, you claim will be denied for SGA because it is the social security administration's position that if you can make this amount you are not functionally limited enough to be considered disabled (to see the current SGA amount: the social security disability and SSI earnings limit).

If you are already receiving title 2 social security disability benefits, SGA-level earnings are still an issue; however, SSA (the social security administration) does offer benefit recipients the opportunity to try working without necessarily giving up their benefits altogether.

Social Security has devised a trial work system that assumes that even though a person who is on disability may try to go back to working, this does not necessarily mean that they will be successful. In fact, they may attempt going back to a job only to find that their condition makes it impossible for them to stay engaged in work activity for very long.

The trial work system used by SSA is set up in this way: If a person who is receiving social security disability benefits goes back to work, they may earn as much as they like, even going over the SGA limit that is in effect for the given year, for nine full months. For those nine trial work months, there is no limit to how much the recipient can earn. However, if the individual is exceeding the earnings limit (SGA) in the tenth month, their benefits will be stopped.

What if you go back to work for a number of months but do not earn over the SGA limit in all of those months? For a month to count as a trial work month, your earnings must be up to the SGA limit. If your earnings are not at least as much as SGA, the month will not count.

The nine trial work months do not have to be consecutive. Also, the total number of trial work months that are accumulated can occur anytime in a rolling 36 month period. All of this means that benefit recipients have a fair amount of flexibility to try various attempts at returning to work.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when receiving social security disability benefits and attempting work activity is to keep the local social security office updated on any work that is engaged in. By informing the local office of work activity, they can track your use of trial work months. This can also help you to avoid going into a situation where you continue to receive benefits that you are not eligible for (for example, if you have used all your trial work months).

If you receive benefits for which you are not monetarily eligible, you will incur an overpayment that will need to be addressed by either seeking a waiver (under the assertion that you cannot repay the overpayment or that the overpayment was not your fault), or by working out a payment arrangement that typically involves having a portion of your monthly disability benefit deducted to repay the debt.

If you are already receiving title 16 SSI disability benefits, there is no trial work period. Your eligibility for SSI will ultimately be subject to the SGA limit on how much you can earn; however, what you receive in SSI monthly benefits may also be reduced by a certain amount based on how much you are earning. Above a certain amount of earnings (which may change from year to year), SSA may deduct one dollar of SSI monthly benefits for every two dollars that are earned. Again, as with SSD, it is important to report work activity to avoid an overpayment and/or a cessation of monthly benefits.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    Are You Allowed to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI?
    What is an unsuccessful work attempt?
    If my medical condition keeps me from working will I get Social Security disability?
    Canít Work In My Old Job, How Does Social Security Disability Consider This?
    Social Security Disability And Trial Work Months: You are allowed to Work
    Medical Disability - How does Social Security view your work and medical records
    Is there a Maximum I can Work and Make if I am on SSD or SSI Disability Benefits?
    Working while getting Disability - Is it Possible?
    Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
    How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
    Can I work without it affecting my social security disability or SSI?
    What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply for disability?
    Will working part-time affect my SSD?
    Working while on Social Security Disability and Not Reporting
    What is SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity)?
    If I Apply For Disability And Go Back To Work, Do I Need To Report This?
    Are you allowed to work at all if you get Social Security disability or SSI?

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria