To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) you need to have basically two things: (1) a severe disability, and (2) a work history (i.e., you must have worked long enough in jobs paid into the Social Security system).
But work, and being able to work, can be a two-edged sword when it comes to SSDI.
On the one hand, you need to have worked long enough to qualify for disability benefits. On the other hand, if you are able to work long enough to support yourself (i.e. to “substantial gainful activity” level) either when you apply for benefits or at any time after you begin receiving benefits, your claim will either be denied or your benefits stopped.
This is important to understand if you are working when the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) conducts your disability review.
First of all, keep in mind the big picture here. Disability benefits are for people with permanent disabilities that cannot work at all or long enough to make a minimum income level.
To ensure that only those who need these benefits receive them, the SSA has set a monetary limit that they use to gauge whether your disability prevents you from earning enough money to live on, or, in SSDI terms, whether your disability prevents you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). That amount changes each year, but basically, SGA is a limit on “monthly gross earned income.” If you earn at least this amount (the SGA amount for 2018 is $1,180 for the non-blind) you will not be eligible for disability benefits.
Your Continuing Disability Evaluation.
To make sure that people who are receiving benefits are still entitled to them, the SSA periodically conducts “continuing disability evaluations” (sometimes referred to as a “disability review”). During these reviews the SSA evaluates whether a person’s condition has improved enough for him/her to be considered no longer “disabled.”
If a person’s condition has improved to the point where he or she is considered no longer disabled, then benefits will be terminated.
Work is Not a Bad Thing.
Going back to work is not a bad thing. However, it is important to understand that going back to work will or may affect your benefits.
For example, if at the time the SSA conducts its Continuing Disability Evaluation you are working, you will have to tell the SSA your employer’s name, the number of hours you are working, and how much you are being paid. (In fact, we recommend that if your condition improves and/or you go back to work, you do not wait for the review to inform the SSA of these changes.)
For your disability review, the most important factor will be the amount of your gross earnings per month. If they are above the SGA limit, your benefits will be terminated.
There is a lot more you should know about going back to work if you are receiving disability benefits, which is why we believe you should always consult experienced social security disability counsel about your situation.
Don’t Wait! Call A Disability Attorney Now!
If you have questions about your disability benefits or have been denied benefits, callus. Our work is helping people who need Social Security Disability Benefits. We are Social Security attorneys. We have offices in a number of cities in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois, and in several cities in Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Contact us today to or connect with us on LinkedIn.