How Much Can I Earn On Social security Disability Insurance?
If you are disabled and receiving benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance, it probably helps pay some of your monthly bills but not all of them. Chances are that what you receive each month from SSDI does not approach the amount you earned before becoming disabled. This is why some people collecting SSDI benefits try to work on a part-time basis to supplement what they get from Social Security.
The danger of working while you earn SSDI each month is that the income earned at work may put you at risk of losing your Social Security benefits. The following information along with a consultation with an SSDI lawyer at MJ Ellis Disability should help to answer questions you have about working while collecting benefits and, specifically, “how much I can earn on SSDI?” without losing benefits.
What is SSDI?
Before getting into a discussion about returning to work and earnings, it may be helpful to go over the basics of the Social Security Disability Insurance program available through the Social Security Administration. You earn the right to coverage under the program by working at a job or through self-employment and paying Social Security taxes on the money you make.
How long you need to have worked to be insured through SSDI depends upon the age at which you become disabled. Generally speaking, younger workers who become disabled need a shorter work and earnings history than do older workers. For example, a worker who becomes disabled at 23 years of age needs 1.5 years of earnings while a 58-year-old worker applying for disability needs to have worked for nine years.
If you have a qualifying work record, you must be “disabled” as it is defined in federal regulations that apply to SSDI. You must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity as a result of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment expected to last for at least one year or result in death. A New Jersey disability lawyer handling your application for SSDI will ensure that it is supported by medical records that include physician evaluations and results of diagnostic and lab tests.
Substantial gainful activity: How it is affected by what you earn on SSDI
Substantial gainful activity includes common work-related activities, including the following:
- Climbing stairs.
Social Security uses the amount of money you earn by working to determine whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
The monthly amount you may earn is reevaluated each year by Social Security, but it is currently $1,310 a month for someone who is disabled and receiving SSDI in 2021. The income threshold is higher at $2,190 a month for an individual unable to work because of being statutorily blind. Earning more than those amounts means you can engage in SGA and do not qualify for SSDI.
Working while collecting SSDI
The Social Security Administration encourages people who qualify for SSDI benefits to attempt to return to work when they believe their medical condition allows it. If you wish to earn an income while receiving disability benefits, you should talk to your SSDI lawyer to avoid risking the loss of your SSDI benefits.
For example, your attorney may recommend that you return to work under a nine-month trial work period. You may earn as much as you wish without putting your SSDI at risk
during the trial period even though the income exceeds the SGA thresholds of $1,310 and $2,190 a month.
The nine months do not have to be consecutive, but they must be completed within five years. Any month that you earn above $940 counts as one of the nine months. If you earn more than the SGA threshold in any month during the trial work period, it does not affect your benefits.
When the trial period ends, you have the option of extending it for an additional 36 months, but the rules about earnings change. You will not receive an SSDI payment in any month that you earn more than the SGA threshold. There is an expedited process to have your benefits restored should you discover that you can no longer continue working because of your disability.
Work expenses you incur because of your disability are deducted from monthly earnings during a trial work period or extended work period. For example, the cost of a wheelchair or transportation costs to get to and from work could reduce your income in a particular month to below the SGA levels.
How can an experienced New Jersey SSDI attorney help?
When you have questions about Social Security disability benefits, an experienced New Jersey SSDI lawyer has the answers and advice you need to make informed decisions. Avoid making mistakes that could put your benefits at risk by getting trusted advice about working and earning income while collecting SSDI from a knowledgeable and skilled SSDI attorney. Contact us today at MJ Ellis Disability.