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How Much Can I Make While On Social Security Disability?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2022 | Social Security Disability (SSD)

Social Security Disability (SSD or SSD) benefits help support disabled workers who become too ill or injured to work full time because of a physical or mental impairment. The amount each recipient gets in their monthly SSD benefit payment varies, depending on their lifetime average annual taxable income. But no matter how much each person receives, SSD was not intended to fully support a worker’s family by itself. Most SSD recipients need to obtain help from other public programs, or they work to earn enough to keep their heads above water.

But how much can you make and still keep getting your SSD benefits?

Law Offices of Daniel Berger was founded by Attorney Daniel Berger, an experienced SSD lawyer who fights to help every disabled worker get the absolute highest SSD or SSI benefit payment for which they are eligible. That means ensuring that every SSD and SSI recipient is fully informed about how much they can earn without jeopardizing their benefits. If you have any questions or need help figuring out your maximum income limit considering your excludable expenses, call us at NYDisability today.

Working While on Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a qualified disability as a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has or is expected to last 12 months, or result in death, and that prevents the claimant from performing what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activities,” or SGAs.

The SSA’s 2022 definition of substantial gainful activities is any work you perform that earns more than $1,350 per month. If you earn more than $1,350 per month, then you are no longer “disabled” under the Social Security Disability program.

But this Maximum Income Cap of $1,350 per month is not the whole story. The SSA created several special programs that allow SSD recipients to earn much more than the $1,350 monthly income cap and continue to collect SSD benefits for many months.

Excludable Work Expenses:

SSD benefit recipients who do perform some work often need to incur impairment-related work expenses and those costs are deductible from the amount of income counted toward the SGA $1,350 cap. For example, the costs of acquiring special transportation or modifying mobility equipment that an SSD recipient pays for out of their income is deductible from the $1,350 cap. The costs of using service animals, disability van transportation, and prosthetics are other examples.

Trial Work Period:

To encourage SSD claimants to try to return to work, earn more than $1,350, and not fear the loss of their SSD benefits, the SSA created established the “Trial Work Period” program. This program allows any SSD claimant to return to work and earn an unlimited amount of income for nine months without any reduction in your SSD benefits. The nine months do not have to be consecutive. Any nine months over a five-year period will count. The SSA will count any month in which you earn at least $970 as one of the nine months.

You will notice that any month in which you earn more than $970 counts as a Trial Work Period month even though you earned less than the $1,350 SGA. At the end of the Trial Work Period, the SSA reviews your Trial Work Period months’ average income to see if you were able to maintain an income higher than the SGA. If you did, then your regular SSD benefits might stop, depending on what you earn during the Extended Period of Eligibility explained below. On the other hand, if you did not maintain an average income higher than the SGA, then your SSD benefits will continue uninterrupted.

Extended Period of Eligibility:

For a period of 36 months after your nine Trial Work Period, months are exhausted, you will still be able to receive your SSD benefit payment for any month in which you earn less than the SGA amount. If you do earn more than the SGA in any month, then you won’t receive an SSD benefit payment for that month. The program continues to act as a safety net in case you can’t maintain the pace of work that you achieved during the Trial Work Period and the Extended Period of Eligibility.

Expedited Reinstatement:

If you completed your Trial Work Period and your 36-month Extended Period of Eligibility and you stopped receiving SSD benefits because you were earning too much, you are eligible to apply for Expedited Reinstatement of your SSD benefits if your impairment returns, preventing you from earning more than the SGA. You won’t need to wait for your claim to be processed as it was when you initially applied. Suffering with the same impairment already approved earlier allows the SSD program to evaluate and reinstate your SSD benefits much more quickly. This Expedited Reinstatement is available if it is less than five years since you received your last SSD payment.

NY Disability and Attorney Daniel Berger fight for disabled workers every day, people with impairments just like yours. Don’t hesitate to call. And don’t put it off for another day. Contact Law Offices of Daniel Berger today for all the help you need to get and protect your Social Security Disability benefits.