close
A briefcase icon


free case review

Contact us today for a free consultation.

Can I Work While I Am On SSDI?

Can You Work If You Are on Social Security Disability in Milwaukee?

If you have been approved for Social Security disability benefits, you might want to work part-time. Whether or not you can work part-time and continue receiving benefits is dependent upon what kind of disability benefits you receive and how much you are earning from your part-time job. If your social security benefits have been terminated, an experienced social security disability attorney can help.

There are two kinds of disability benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the other is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a needs-based kind of disability benefit, so if you work while receiving SSI your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 earned after the first $65 or after the first $85 if you don’t have any additional income.

There is the potential to lose your SSI benefits if you earn enough from part-time employment. If your SSI benefits have been stopped because of your earnings, they will be resumed by the SSA if your earnings decrease. If you go an entire year without receiving SSI benefits, you will have to reapply and start the disability application process all over.

If you are receiving SSDI and you are working part-time, your benefits will not be reduced or stopped because of your earnings as long as your earned income falls below the substantial gainful activity amount (SGA), which is currently $1,170 per month for disabled individuals who are not blind and $1,950 per month for disabled individuals who are blind. You can earn more than the SGA amount and receive your regular disability benefits throughout a nine-month work trial.

The SGA is a definitive cut-off point for the SSA. If your countable income is more than the SGA amount, you will lose your disability benefits after the specified time -which includes the nine-month trial period and an additional three-month grace period despite the severity of or the nature of your disability. So, if you are planning to work part-time and you don’t want to face losing your benefits, it is best that you make sure your income stays below the SGA amount.

There are several advantages for disabled individuals who keep their income levels below the trial work period amount, which is $840 per month during 2017. At Tabak Law, we recommend that after you have been approved for disability benefits you do not exceed this amount because you will not use up your trial work period, and you can wait and use them later if you become able to or decide to return to try to return to full-time work.

Trial work periods are not applicable to SSI benefits. SGA amount doesn’t apply to individuals receiving SSI benefits either. Because SSI is a needs-based program, your income cannot exceed $733 per month for an individual or $1,100 per month for a couple. If you were to work part-time, you would end up losing your benefits.

What are the Advantages to Keeping Income Levels Below the Trial Work Services Amount?

If you keep your income levels lower than the trial work services amount, you have several advantages. You can earn any amount of income for nine months and still be eligible to receive your regular disability benefits. You can return to work full-time and not worry about your disability benefits stopping during that nine-month test period. As an example, if you return to work full-time for eight months, you will be paid your salary plus your disability benefits.

If you find that you cannot continue with full-time employment at the end of eight months, you will be able to keep your disability benefits as long as you don’t improve medically. People sometimes use up their trial work period through part-time work. As an example, some people who worked part-time while their disability claims were pending learn that they used up their trial work period before they were even approved for benefits by the SSA. If your regular income exceeds the trial work period services monthly limit for a total of nine months at any time after your benefits application was filed, even if those are not nine consecutive months, you will have used up your trial work period.

Even a trial month here and there adds up, if a total of nine months occurs within a five-year period. After you have used up nine months, your trial period is gone. People getting disability benefits who have used up their trial work period through part-time work are often surprised when their disability benefits are suddenly stopped. If your trial work period has been used and then you go back to work full-time, your benefits will end after you have worked only three months. With the help of a Milwaukee disability lawyer, you probably can get your disability benefits reinstated if you stop work within three years of using up your nine-month work trial period.

If you return to work at the SGA level for more than three years after your trial work period was used up, your benefits will be stopped by the SSA during your first month of work. If you are unable to return to work more than three years after your trial work period ended, you will face greater difficulty in having disability benefits reinstated even with the help of a Milwaukee Social Security disability attorney from Tabak Law, LLC.

With that being said, we believe it is best for you to not use up your trial work months until you are ready to go back to work on a full-time basis. Your trial work period can be very valuable to you, so you should not waste it trying to do part-time work. Keep your monthly income amount below the trial work period amount until you are ready to return to the workforce full-time.

When I Am Trying to Keep My Income Below the Trial Work Period Services Amount, Which is Applicable – Gross Income or Take-Home Pay?

If you are trying to keep your income lower than the trial work period amount, it is your gross income that comes into play. And, your gross income is not averaged by the number of months that you worked. The monthly income guidelines for your trial work period is very strict. You don’t have any deductions from your gross income that will reduce it below the trial work services allowable amount.

If I Need More Income Than Permitted by the Trial Work Period Regulations, What are the Rules Regarding Working Less Than the SGA Amounts?
It is not averaged, but gross income counts. You can deduct any vacation pay, sick pay, and any impairment-related work expenses. According to the SSA, impairment-related work expenses include the amounts of your payments that you make out-of-pocket to treat your disabilities. To clarify these amounts, consult with a social security disability attorney at Tabak Law or someone with the SSA. There are things that you might think can be deducted that are not deductible, such as health insurance. You can use the deductions to reduce your countable income and keep it below the SGA level. Becoming dependent on such deductions, however, can be dangerous. It is much safer and more efficient to use the SGA as your income guideline and make certain any gross monthly earnings don’t exceed the SGA.

Can I Work Part-Time at My Own Business?

It can be possible to do this, but the SSA’s regulations make it possible to determine that a person who is working part-time in his own business and even losing money, which is common with new businesses, is engaging in SGA. Although it is unusual, your disability benefits can be lost on this basis alone. If you are operating your own business and losing money but working at least 80 hours each month, the SSA will determine that you are performing trial work period services and you will be using up your trial work period.

When Must I Report My Income to the SSA?

If you have been approved for SSI and are receiving benefits, you must report any income you receive during one month no later than the 10th of the following month. If you are receiving SSDI benefits, you must report to them promptly if you go to work or run your own business. You must tell the SSA right away if you are trying to go back to work.
However, nowhere in the SSA’s guidelines does it indicate when you must send copies of check stubs and work expenses related to your disability. You are most likely going to be told different things by different SSA employees. The general rule is that you should report your earnings early on so you will avoid an overpayment. If you keep your income lower than the SGA amount, you won’t be facing the problems of an overpayment.

After starting work, you will call the SSA to report this to them and you must provide accurate income documentation. There are different applicable rules, so you need to make sure the SSA representative you talk with understands you are not receiving retirement benefits, but disability benefits. Make sure you get the name and location of the individual you talk with. You should follow up with a letter to your local SSA office, explaining that you have returned to work, repeating the information you were told about income reporting. You should maintain a copy of the letter for your records.

To learn more about your trial work period and the SGA amounts, contact an experienced Milwaukee social security disability attorney with Tabak Law. We are experienced in all aspects of Social Security disability law.

Injured? Unable to Work? We Can Help!

contact us below to arrange a free case review with an experienced social security disability lawyer.