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How Much Can You Earn in 2021 and Draw Social Security Disability?
Receiving Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) benefits saves many disabled workers and their families from falling off a financial cliff. But SSD benefits are not always enough to keep you safe from economic pressure. Those who can earn an income in addition to receiving the SSDI benefits need to know exactly how much money they can earn and continue to get their SSD benefits.
Attorney Mary Jean Ellis and M.J. Ellis Disability Law Office commit their entire professional career to fight for New Jersey residents who deserve to receive SSD and SSI benefits. As an expert SSD lawyer and neighbor, M.J. Ellis wants to help you to win the maximum SSD benefit you are entitled to.
SSD Lawyer Explains Social Security Disability Income Limit
As Northern New Jersey’s premier SSD lawyer, M.J. Ellis specializes in representing SSD and SSI applicants from preparing their claims through to the final award decision. But a great SSD law attorney is an expert at understanding the many rules and regulations involved with SSDI and SSI benefits. Questions about how your benefits work and what you can earn while on SSD benefits is a common question.
Here are the basics you need to know
- 2021 Maximum Allowable Earned Income Drawing SSD Benefits = $1,310 per month
- blind SSD benefits recipients’ earning limit is $2,190 per month
- 2022 Maximum Allowable Earned Income Drawing SSD Benefits = $1,350 per month
- blind SSD benefits recipients’ earning limit will be $2,260 per month
Understanding Your Monthly Earning Limit on SSD
The Social Security Administration defines qualified workers as disabled and eligible for SSD benefits when they have a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing ‘substantive gainful activities.” The disability needs to last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in the death of the SSD applicant. They refer to the substantial gainful activity as “SGA.”
What’s “substantial gainful activity” (SGA)? It may seem odd that whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits would be based on such a vague concept. The Social Security Administration created the SGA limit as a uniform, across-the-board dollar amount that the government can use to separate workers who can earn a living from the workers who are too disabled to earn the same amount.
In 2021, the government set the SGA figure at $1,310 per month. According to the SSD rules, that means if you can earn more than $1,310 in a month, then you are not “disabled” enough to receive SSD benefits. The dollar figure is determined in relation to the national average annual wage index. However, it is worth noting that the 2021 poverty guideline for an individual is $12,880 annually. That means individuals who earn more than the $1,310 per month SGA level would be above the poverty line by $2,840 per year. For each additional family member in the household, the poverty level increases by $4,540.
The challenge of living only on SSD benefits motivates many SSD recipients to attempt to work. The dilemma they once faced was that earning more than the monthly SSD income limit would mean they would lose the SSD benefit on which they depended so much.
Trial Work Period Program Allows SSD Benefits and Higher Monthly Earnings
The Social Security Administration wanted to encourage SSD benefits recipients to try to resume any employment they could manage without the threat of immediately losing their benefits if they were successful. To solve the problem, the government created the Trial Work Period program.
Under the Trial Work Period (TWP) plan, an SSD benefit recipient can earn as much as they can above the monthly SGA cut-off limit and still keep receiving their full benefits. The catch is that you can only take advantage of this program for 9 months. But for each of those 9 months, you can earn an unlimited amount of income and the government will not penalize you by reducing or eliminating your regular SSD payment. The 9 months do not have to be consecutive; they can be spread across a five-year period.
Importantly, any month in which you earn more than $970 will count as one of your 9 months.
Some Earnings Don’t Count Against the SSD Income Limit
The income you earn while you are getting SSD benefits is not all the same. Some disability-related expenses you incur can be deducted from your earnings to keep you under the monthly earnings cap.
Your best strategy is to consult today with an experienced SSD lawyer who is an expert in the many exceptions and special regulations that may apply to your disability case. The Law Office of M.J. Ellis is devoted to helping disabled people of Northern New Jersey receive the highest possible SSD benefits. M.J. Ellis Disability Law Office is the SSD law specialist to get you and your family every SSD and SSI benefit you deserve.