Social Security disability benefits can be a bit of a minefield. They can be difficult to navigate and there are a few rules that apply to what you can and can’t do while receiving disability benefits. It can be tricky to keep track of those rules, but we’re here to help.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You might be wondering if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits in the first place. A qualifying condition is a condition that will either result in death or render you unable to work for one year or more. Documentation of the qualifying condition is required, as is a hearing to determine the extent to which the condition impacts your life and whether or not you are truly too disabled to work. If it is found that you are, in fact, eligible for Social Security disability benefits, then you will receive a set amount in benefits each month. But what if you need to earn a little more in order to keep yourself afloat? How much can you earn without putting your benefits in jeopardy?
Substantial Gainful Activity
In general, those on disability can’t earn as much as others can and still retain their benefits. There’s a limit on earnings when it comes to disability benefits, and the limit is referred to as “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA. The definition of SGA varies from disability to disability – for example, blind people have a higher limit on their earnings than those with other disabilities. For the year 2020, the standard definition of SGA is any activity for which you are earning $1,260 or more per month. For the blind, however, it’s any activity for which they are earning $2,110 or more.
Can I Work at All?
The short answer is yes, a person on disability can still work. People receiving Social Security disability benefits are entitled to a nine-month “trial work period” during which they can get a job and still receive their full benefit amount, regardless of how much they earn. If you are on Social Security disability, start a job, and earn more than $910 per month, that’s considered the beginning of your trial period. The trial period is intended to give people an opportunity to test out their ability to work without having to risk their disability benefits. After that trial period, there’s a period of 36 months where you’re still eligible for your benefits. If your income falls below your SGA during a particular month during that period, then you’ll still receive your benefits for that month, and if it turns out you are still unable to work as much as you thought you could, you can resume your benefits.
What Happens if I Go Over My SGA?
So if you accidentally earn more than your SGA for a particular month, does that mean you no longer qualify for disability benefits at all? Rest assured, that’s not the case. You just won’t receive your benefits for that particular month. It won’t disqualify you entirely. The next month, your benefits will resume as scheduled.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, you can still work while you’re receiving disability, you just have to keep a careful eye on how much you’re earning and ensure that you don’t go over your substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. There are also some rules as to how much you can put into a savings account when you’re on disability, but they vary according to what kind of account you have.
Considering Applying for Social Security Disability?
Our experienced attorneys can help you figure out if you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits and prepare for the hearing you’ll need to go through in order to qualify. Contact Steuer, Escovar, and Coleman at (216) 771-8121 for a FREE consultation today, or visit our website.