Working & Collecting Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Generally speaking, if you are working at the level of engaging in a “substantial gainful activity”, or SGA, you will likely be unable to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI).  Hence, a person who is making more than a certain amount per month is considered to be engaging in SGA.  Specifically, SGA means is that in 2013, if you are earning more than $1,040 or $1,740 if you are blind, you will not be eligible to collect SSDI. 

It is important to understand that there are exceptions to the SGA.  For people who wish to return to work after being rendered disabled, the SSA offers a “trial work program”, or TWP.  Otherwise stated, the TWA allows a person to work without automatically losing their benefits.   To illustrate, a person who receives SSDI benefits may “test the waters” to see whether they can work and may do so for a nine month period, regardless of whether their earnings exceed the SSA’s allowable SGA amounts or not.  In 2013, a person who is working pursuant to the SSA’s TWP must earn more than $750 in one month for it to be considered a “trial month” under the program.  If you are a sole proprietor, you must work 80 hours or more in any one month for it be qualify under the TWP.

Once your nine-month trial period has ended, you may still receive SSDI benefits even if your income falls below the SGA’s allowable amounts.   Referred to as the “extended period of eligibility”, this lasts for 36 months after your completion of work during the nine-month TWP period.  Keep in mind that if your earnings exceed $1,040 in a given month, you cannot collect SSDI during this time.

If your earnings are substantial, resulting in the termination of your benefits, you may have them reinstated within a five-year period should you be unable to work due to your disability.  This is commonly known as “expedited reinstatement”.  During these five years, you will not be required to reapply for SSDI benefits.

If you lose your job during the TWP, your SSDI benefits will not be affected however, if this occurs during the 36-month extended period of eligibility, you will need to contact the SSA to reinstate your benefits.

For more information on your ability to work while collected SSDI benefits, contact the Sanger Law Office at 785-979-4353.  We will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  We look forward to providing you with excellent legal representation.