Can I Work and Still Receive Benefits?

SSDI Benefits and Working

There is a common misconception that once you begin receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments, you are no longer allowed to work. However, the fact is you can work and are encouraged to do so if you are able to.

Once you are approved and begin receiving social security benefits, you do not need to fear completely losing your benefits should you be in a position where you become able to work. If you are receiving SSDI, you must notify the Social Security Administration immediately, either by calling them or visiting their website.

Social Security Work Incentives

The Social Security Administration has many programs that will help you start working if you’re receiving benefits. One of them is a trial work period. This enables you to go out and get a job to test and make sure you are truly able to work again. You’re given 9 months to work and still receive your full Social Security benefits. Your payments will not be affected as long as you report your work activity. Your work activity must reach a certain level to even be counted toward the 9 month trial work period. For 2014, that amount is $770. That means that any month you earn less than $770 will not be counted toward your trial work period. It is important to keep track of all income and earnings you receive.

Once you have completed the 9 month trial period, you can then enter the extended period of eligibility, which lasts 36 months. During this time you’ll continue to receive your full Social Security benefit as long as you don’t make more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) threshold for that year. This threshold changes annually but for 2014, the amount is $1,070 per month. The first month your gross monthly earnings are over SGA you will receive your Social Security benefit check for that month and two more months. These months are called the Grace Period. For months you earn more than the SGA amount you will not be paid your Social Security benefit. Thus, it’s important to understand that during the 36 months of your extended period of eligibility, your Social Security benefit payments will be based on your income, unlike the first 9 month period.

How Working Affects Supplement Security Income (SSI) Payments

When you begin working while receiving SSI payments, the Social Security office will amend the amount of money you receive based off of a standard formula. The amount you make would be your work income minus up to $85 and then divided by two.

For example, let’s say you just started working and are receiving $1,000 a month from this new job and don’t have any other income. The SSA would deduct $85 from that amount, and you would then be left with $915. This new amount is the total the government will view as your monthly income. They will then take the $915 and divide it by 2. The result amounts to $457.50. Therefore, the Government would decrease your SSI payment by $457.50.

We hope our brief guide explains the process of working while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI payments. If you need an SSD or SSI lawyer in Philadelphia, Lancaster, PA, or elsewhere in the state, turn to the Law Office of Lisa M. Ritacco.