Can I Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Unfortunately, many of my clients find the monthly check they receive from the United States Treasury is too small to live on.  I am always receiving calls from former clients asking if they can return to work part time and still receive their Social Security Disability benefits?  The answer is not simple.  And, in classic lawyer fashion, it depends.

Substantial Gainful Activity

Social Security Disability benefits are only eligible for those that are not able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).  Thus if you return to work that is SGA, then the Social Security Administration (SSA) will most likely conclude that you are no longer entitled to benefits.

What work would be considered SGA? Whether a particular work activity is SGA is up to debate.  However, SSA has provided guidelines on the amount of wages that it presumes to be SGA.  In 2013, if you make more than $1,040 in a month, that is presumed to be SGA.  This amount changes from year to year and can be found on the SSA website. (SGA Amounts).

Thus if you are making $800 per month, SSA presumes that you are not engaged in SGA.  However, the analysis does not end there.  As it turns out, earning $800 per month for a long enough period of time could ultimately terminate your benefits.

Trial Work Period

The SSA encourages disabled individuals to go back to work.  One of their methods is the Trial Work Period (TWP).  This is a period of time when you are allowed to go back to work and still receive your Social Security Disability benefits.  The TWP lasts for 9 months.  The TWP is designed to give the disabled individual the opportunity to try to work without the fear that their entitlement to benefits will be immediately terminated.

So when does the TWP begin? In 2013, it begins in any month that you earn more than $750.  The amount that triggers the TWP changes every year and can be found on the SSA website.  (TWP Amounts).  The months also do not have to be consecutive.  Thus if you make $800 in January of 2011 and $800 in May 2012, you are 2 months into your 9 month TWP.

What happens when the TWP is used up? After the 9th month, SSA will send you a letter that you are no longer considered disabled.  However, for the next three years they will continue to pay you Social Security Disability Benefits for any month in which you make less than the SGA amount.  This is called the Extended Period of Entitlement.  Any work above SGA after the 3 years has expired will terminate your entitlement to benefits altogether.  At this point you must re-apply for disability benefits.  The only good news is that this process should theoretically be quicker as you can file for expedited reinstatement of your entitlement to disability benefits.

Recall the individual above who has returned to work part time making $800 a month, which is below SGA and theoretically “safe.”  If that individual continues to make $800 per month for the next 9 months they would continue to receive their disability checks but would exhaust their TWP.  If they then continued to make $800 a month for the next 36 months they would continue receiving their disability benefits because $800 is not SGA.  Moreover, if they continued to make that amount even beyond the 36 months they would still continue to receive benefits.  However, if they worked just one month above SGA after the 36 month period had expired, the checks would stop.

My Advice

If all of the SGAs and TWPs sound confusing, it’s because they are! Trying to calculate the precise amount of money you can earn every month to continue your disability benefits is a daunting task.

I advise my clients that any work, at any income level, can be used as evidence that you are able to work.  While your work may be at amounts that are below SGA and TWP, it is conceivable that the work activity itself could be used as a basis for determining that you are no longer disabled.   SSA regulations indicate that even if your earnings are less than SGA:

“[i]f there is evidence, however, showing that an individual may be engaging in SGA, or appears to be in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings, develop fully the facts concerning the comparability of the employee’s work to that of unimpaired individuals, and the worth of the employee’s work . . . .”

While the above may lead you to the conclusion that I encourage my clients not to attempt to return to work, nothing could be further from the truth.  In my observations, working people are happier people.  I always encourage my clients to return to work if they believe that they can.

David Galinis
Managing Partner – Estates and Social Security Practice
Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP
481 N Frederick Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-670-7030
dgalinis@bsgfdlaw.com
www.BSGFDlaw.com

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384 Responses to Can I Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

  1. Lisa Eisenkramer says:

    Hi, The article about SSI Disabilty and going back to work was helpful. I have 3 question.1. Will I lose my medicare insurance if I go back to work either under 720 dollars a month or over? 2, Will my kids no longer receive their benefits it I go back to work? 3. My husband does not receive medicalinsurance at his job so we pay out of pocket alot each month, is ther some type of medicare/ social security medical benefits I can apply for to cover my children and/or spouse? Thanks,Lisa

    • dgalinis says:

      Thanks for the comments Lisa. With regards to your first question, Medicare eligibility is the one of the two benefits of winning your case for Social Security Disability (the other being the monthly checks). Your Medicare eligibility will cease if you are no longer disabled. Thus, if you return to work and that results in a termination of your Social Security Disability benefits, that will also end your entitlement to Medicare benefits. The same applies to your second question. If your children’s benefits are based on your disability, a return to work that results in a termination of your benefits, will also terminate your children’s benefits. Your final question is certainly a hot topic of national debate – specifically, what do we do about the lack of health insurance for all Americans? Medicare provides health insurance only to those found entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and Social Security retirees. Medicaid is a quasi state/federal system that can provide medical insurance to individuals and children based on financial need. Many states also offer other programs, besides Medicaid, to help provide health insurance. If you live in Maryland visit the Department of Human Resources website for more information.

  2. Betty says:

    So the real question is how do u get enough money to live off. If they only give you a few pennies . They make it a damn if u do damn if u don’t situation.

    • Teresa Nier says:

      Hi Betty,

      I am a Certified Work Incentive counselor for an Employment Network. The Ticket to Work Program is designed to help those on disability return to work. There are safety nets in place so you do not lose all benefits once you begin working. SSI – supplemental insurance and SSDI the program differs for both. SSDI does receive a trial work period of 9 months to see if you are able to return to work – unlimited earnings without loosing your cash benefit or medicare. Once that is completed you go into a 36-month extended period of eligiblity – this is where SGA comes in to play and your 93-month of extended medicare begins the month following your trial work period. Before you can loose your cash benefit SSA will need to make an SGA decision – if they are unable to do so – you do not loose your cash benefit – even if there are some months above SGA. For SSI your cash benefit is automatically reduced or taken down to zero. When this happens your work earnings far exceed your SSI cash benefit. Also a good benefit for SSI folks is the 1619b extended medicaid coverage, it allows you to keep medicaid even when earnings disqualify you. To apply for this 1619 b you need to know if your state is a 1619b state and you would want to apply at your medicaid office once you begin working but before you get paid. Pending on your situation and earnings you may still qualify for medicaid.

      • Jeffrey Moore says:

        I am currently on SSID and signed up for the ticket to work program, I want to go back to living life and working a full time job and yet all I have discovered is so called mentors who told me there was no funds for me to get vocational training and even have the emails letting me know that she was not a temp service and had no connections or job placement for me, and even told me to go out on my own and fill out applications at gas stations or burger king and work as much as I can for the full 9 month’s yet said she would be there to mentor me if I had any problems,, I asked her why she was a mentor if she had no contacts or job opportunities for me and she stated she was just a sounding board to offer encouragement,, I told her that goes against everything the ticket to work states on there site and I have not heard from her since and she work’s for workforce-one the state employment agency, I would file a suite against her and the agency but I am not looking to cash in I just want to get a human basic interaction job and not be a free loader even though I worked since I was 17 and paid in any benefits I am getting at the moment. I just want to try and be a honest, hard working person like I was before my illness and yes I did work full time, sometimes 2 jobs to support myself and was even told because I had worked and paid in on my social security that I was never even considered for SSI benefit’s from the state of Indiana and now as of June 1st the state is taking away my medical insurance because I am $40 a month over there income guideline, which they can have as I could not afford the $385 monthly spin down to start with. I want to return to the work force, they are slowly but surely stripping me of any benefit’s I have anyway and it’s just a matter of time before they take what monthly benefits I do get, even though I worked and paid it in for the last 25 years. Men in prison get better health care than I do and yet I was told not to tell the judge that when I tried to appeal my medical coverage being taken away. and yes I did drop the appeal after my case worker told me there was nothing I could do to change the guidelines and she suggested I just take the situation as is and not go before the administrative judge. The Ticket To Work program is as disfunctional as the government we have now and I do not see it getting any better so those on SSDI and SSI had better try to get there act together and get a job in any field that is hiring, guess I’ll end up flipping burgers at McDonalds

  3. David says:

    If I have been self employed working part time from home, does the administration look at my gross pay or net pay at the initial determination of whether or not I had “SGA” the last 2 years?
    “In 2011, if you make more than $1,000 in a month, that is presumed to be SGA.”
    Is it a net $1000 or gross $1000 “SGA”?
    Thank you

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear David,

      For individuals who are receiving wages, the SSA looks at the gross wages. The rules are different and not so clear for self-employed individuals. SSA regulations provide that they will “consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements.” CFR § 404.1575(a)(2). Unfortunately, there is no easy answer with self-employed individuals.

      David

  4. Tony says:

    I’ve been on SSD since 2009. I turn 62 in August of this year. I really need to find some PT work to make me feel useful again. Ideally, I’d be looking to do 3-5 hours a day, 2-4 days week if I can handle it. Its my understanding that my “disability classifcation” within SS goes away on my 62nd birthday and that I convert to being a straight SS collector at that time. I do not expect to earn more than $500 a month. Need I be concerned about loosing my disability status if I started such PT work 3-4 months before my 62nd bithday?

    Thanks, Tony in NJ.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Tony,

      Disability benefits do not convert to retirement benefits until you reach “full retirement age” which, in most cases, is age 66. Age 62 is the early retirement age. As to whether your work will affect your disability benefits, please refer the information provided in this blog post as it still applies to you.

      David

    • Teresa Nier says:

      Hi Tony,

      I can tell you if your are indeed SSDI and want to return to P/T work if you stay below the SGA level nothing changes for you.

  5. Fred says:

    As a government employee, if I become disabled and can’t work, I would be eligible for SSDI and my retirement check, correct? I also have long term disability insurance. Would any of those make me ineligible for Medicare? All 3 combined may yield me about $4,000 a month. Thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Fred,

      Thank you for the comment. I assume you are a federal government employee. If so, there is something called the Windfall Elimination Provision (click for more information) that affects government employees who collect Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. This provision can cause your SSD benefits to be reduced. It is the topic of an entire blog by itself. With regards to long term disability insurance, most policies contain provisions which reduce the benefit amount if you also receive SSD benefits. Finally, I can think of no reason that your eligibility for Medicare would be affected by either federal retirement or long term disability insurance. That being said, I have never been asked that question nor has it ever come up in my practice.

      David

      • Fred says:

        Thanks for your reply. Actually I just work for the local government, and I pay SS, so I don’t think the Windfall Elimination Provision would apply. My main concern is the Medicare eligibility due to having high medical expenses. Just wanted to make sure I’d not be negatively effected for having too much “income.”

      • Keli Walker says:

        If I only make 300 a month will I eventually lose my SSDI just cause I am working or will I be good to keep it even after all the TWP

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Keli,

          Thank you for your comment. At $300 per month you should not lose your disability benefits because of earnings unless the SSA determined that you were “in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings” as I indicated in my post.

          David

          • Aimee says:

            I am sorry, but I a bit confused about your comment to Keli..“in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings” as I indicated in my post. Will you be able to explain in simple terms…I have SSDI and it is difficult to live on the amount on receive on a monthly basis…I have an opportunity to sell my at home craft items making the amount of 300 to 500 a month give or take…but not steady…Am I safe to do so? And if I receive a 1099 reflecting either the 300 a month or the 500 a month What will happen? Thank you

          • dgalinis says:

            Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

            David

  6. Emmajean says:

    I live in Alabama and became disabled 4/2/11 from real bad car wreck. I presently am online to utilize my extensive education. That took some concentration on my part to figure what could I do and able to do. Therefore, I researched to find a profession I could learn and use my field of extertises.
    I am 63 year old RN & CLNC. RN for 33 years in hospitals. Wreck really fixed my right foot and unable to run the halls. Now I am receiving SSD in which is half of what I made.
    Online I applied to administer immunizations August through November near to home during the flu season. Will I lose my SSD if I make less than !000 a month for this short time? Do I need to contact SSD about my plan? THANKS MUCH

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comments, Emmajean. You are under an obligation to report to SSA if you return to work – in any capacity. Make sure you describe the limited hours, short season, and the rate of pay. If the work is temporary and under the limits described in the post it should theoretically not affect your ongoing disability benefits. Please also be aware that in 2012 wages of over $720 in any month will trigger the Trial Work Period. If your wages exceed this amount for 9 months SSA may determine that your disability has ceased.

      Good luck,

      David

  7. Marc says:

    How does a receipients age, type of disability, and length of disability period affect the SSA’s determination of the potential for “substantial gainful activity”?

    Thank you.

  8. Edwad says:

    I have a question . So I’m a teenager who will soon be 18 that receives social security benefits due to the fact that I haved lost my dearly father . With receiving social security benefits from my father is there any chance that I can have a part time job while receiving social security ?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your question. If your benefits were based upon the death of your father, they are called “survivor’s benefits.” These benefits will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on your survivor’s benefits. This is because you will probably not earn enough to affect your benefits. Survivor’s benefits are reduced if you make more than $14,640 per year (in 2012).

      David

      • Im 36 years old and receive ssi but i don’t get enough to live on can i apply for more benifits then wut im getting thanks jeannette from Allentown, pa

        • dgalinis says:

          Thank you for your question Jeannette. I assume that you are receiving SSI benefits because you have not worked enough quarters to be eligible for disability benefits. (See Have I Worked Enough to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits). If you are not eligible for disability benefits, the only other cash benefit you can obtain from the Social Security Administration is what you are currently receiving, SSI. There may be programs in your state or county that provide additional monthly benefits. You might try contacting your local department of social services.

          David

  9. Chrysta says:

    My conclusion is that I can earn $700.00 a month indefinitely while receiving disability. Am I correct?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Christa,

      Thank you for your question. You may be technically correct for this year. But remember that the monthly amounts change each year. Also remember the following from my blog:

      I advise my clients that any work, at any income level, can be used as evidence that you are able to work. While your work may be at amounts that are below SGA and TWP, it is conceivable that the work activity itself could be used as a basis for determining that you are no longer disabled. The SSA may determine that you are self-limiting your income. That is, you are able to work more but choose not to in order to continue receiving disability benefits.

      David

  10. Chrysta says:

    Post Script: And if so, do I need to notify ssa of my work activity?

  11. Sally Diebolt says:

    Shadings of grey …. On ltd due to chronic pain and 5 auto accidents ….. Was paralegal for 25 yrs … Out of boredom and ‘challenge’ obtained my real estate license … Made a $2.3m sale!! Obviously large amount but ‘work’ for deal took no effort (old friends) …. How is large 1-time (or subsequent large commissions counted for TWP? Unable to do sustained work of past, but can work as realtor (self employed) and occasionally get lucky ….. No one locally can answer my question and at almost 62 can I’ll-afford to lose my benefits/SS ….. Also, I understand that I am now considered to be ‘retired’ by my local office ! A final question …. If I had a great real estate year, and it threw me off SS as providing substantial work and exceeding work trial, can I reapply and with doc’s orders re-qualify ??one has to have great interpretive skills to understand all this …. Help!!! And thank you!

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Sally,

      Thank you for the questions. The good news is that one time commissions only count as one month of trial work. Thus so long as you don’t have more than 9 of those months in any five year period (the trial work period recycles every 5 years), you should have no problem. If you do exhaust your trial work months, your benefits will not be immediately cut off. In fact, for three years you will remain eligible for disability benefits in any month that you make less than SGA. This is known as the Extended Period of Eligibility or EPE. Finally, when you turn regular retirement age (65 or 66), your benefits convert from disability to retirement benefits. There is no earnings limitation for regular retirement benefits.

      David

      PS. For trial work purposes, the commission will be counted in the month it is received only. However for other purposes, such as determining SGA – the SSA rules indicate that the commission should be be applied over the months in which the work activity was performed, if possible.

  12. luke says:

    after receiving disibility benefits how long do I have to wait before I can work a small part time job

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Luke,

      Thank you for your question. There is no rule that I am aware of requiring a certain amount of time between the receipt of disability benefits and work activity. However, as I indicated in my post, any work (even that below the SGA or TWP amounts) may be used as evidence that you are not disabled.

      David

  13. stephanie perrin says:

    I have been on disability for 2 years and would like to try and go back and work in my profession as a RN. I am 63 years old. I will be making more than 720.00 a month if I work 3 shifts per month. I can not take a chance of loosing my benefits and medicare if I find I can not work. I can not live on my ssd income..what can one do to supplement? Can I work for 6 months and quit? I know I will not be able to work for two to three more years . I have read and thought I could work for 9 months which would give me a cushion to have a decent life, but know I am confused when I hear..if you go back to work it will show that you are not disabled??? Help?? I may be missing something.

    • dgalinis says:

      Stephanie,

      Thank you for your question. Under the law, there is a 9 month trial work period. Thus, your disability benefits continue despite your work activity for a 9 month period. The theory being, SSA doesn’t want to penalize you for trying to work. If you are successful working and continue to work beyond that period, you will receive a letter indicating that you are no longer disabled. Then for 3 years you still will receive SSD benefits for any month you do not make SGA (currently $1040). After that three year period your entitlement to benefits will terminate unless you file for expedited reinstatement.

      Keep in mind that 66 is your normal or full retirement age. At that age, your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits. And these benefits will not be affected at all by your work activity.

      I hope this helps,

      David

  14. Gary Allen says:

    Hi, I am 62 years old and have worked all my life in construction The only way i can make thru the work day now is by being heavily medicated for back pain. I would like to apply for disability, but cannot afford the medical tests needed to show my disability. Can i apply without those tests. Thank you in advance. Gary

    • dgalinis says:

      Gary,

      Thank you for your question. First, yes you can apply without the tests. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will request all of your medical records. After review of your records, if SSA believes that additional tests are needed, the SSA may schedule you for additional testing (at SSA’s expense). Second, remember that at age 62 you are also eligible to apply for early retirement benefits which do not require you to prove that you are disabled.

      David

  15. Cassie says:

    David,

    I have a really confusing situation and am not sure what to do. I was approved for ssdi this past August. I’m unable to stand longer than 15 minutes at a time and sitting is no better (I have to have both of my hips replaced and then back surgery after that is taken care of). For about 2 weeks out of each month, I’m right down in bed and need help walking, dressing and pretty much everything else. And I’m on massive amounts of pain medication which keeps me from driving much of the time.

    Prior to becoming disabled, I worked full-time but also owned a small family ran business making candles and soap out of our home. I started it as a hobby with my daughter before other family members became involved and invested money for supplies to make more things and then it just kind of became a ‘family’ thing.

    Once some of my family members and two of my friends got involved, it became more of a business. We sold online and made a couple hundred dollars a month. Nothing substantial because it was only a part-time activity. And it never got out of the ‘red’ because of me getting worse and unable to do anything to really help them expand it.

    My family and 2 of my close friends want to continue the business and still get together at my house a few times a month to make things. Since I can’t really do anything anymore, I basically just answer emails, make labels, etc… (anything that I can do from my recliner or couch) and they do the rest.

    I don’t know if it’s okay for me to let this continue as the business is in my name. To this date, we’ve invested much more money than we’ve had in return as it was just basically a hobby since I worked a full-time job. But what if they start to expand and sell more? They are the ones that invested the money, not myself so any returns that come in, go to them since it was their money in the first place.

    Is it okay for me to continue to let the business be in my name and is there anything that I need to do as far as my ssdi? Since it’s just more of a hobby and my only part in it is emails, etc.. and since any returns go back to the ‘investors’ in the family, do I need to do anything with the TWP?

    Thank you so much, Cassie

    • dgalinis says:

      Cassie,

      Thank you for your question. For self employed individuals, what is “substantial gainful activity’ is far from black and white. I would say that as long as the business (and therefore you) continue to not make any money you probably have nothing to worry about. If the business does start making significant money, you might consider selling the business to one of your relatives.

      David

      • Jan S. says:

        Not sure if Cassie will get this information, but I have been on S.S. disability for several years. One year during that time, my husband, who owns a business, put his business in my name (to get a tax break involving spouses). Social Security sent me a rather nasty note, basically stating that how could I collect disability money if I could “run” a business – and I could very possibly lose my disability money. I called right away, explained I wasn’t “running” the business – just trying to get a tax break for my husband. The gal I talked to said to write a letter to Social Security, explain the situation, and get my name off my husband’s business ASAP. I did, and I was okay. Do be careful when it comes to business and self-employment.

  16. Walter Frazier says:

    David, Thanks for this blog. You said something I suspected when looking at the Ticket/Trial Work rules. You stated Social Security will send you a letter stating you are no longer considered disabled will be sent once you have earned over $720 for 9 months. This one benchmark of the SSDI rules discourages trying to work. This number discourages the goal of the policy itself.

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  19. kyle says:

    I have a question. I have been unemployed for years now, my wife just got on SSDI, I found a job roughtly two weeks ago, I did some body work on a car and laid tile floor and made 1300$ (private contractor work with a Christmas bonus.) The guy I did the work for is using it as a write off, and I will claim 1099. We didn’t know that this would turn into a (very) small part time job, about 60-80$ weekly. So here is the problem.

    My wife didn’t tell the SSDI people that I was working because I really didn’t have the job, this was a trial type deal to see if I was the right fit (also pay by job and quality of work so no idea of pay). He decided on Dec 31st as a favor to me so that I could get some money back on a tax refund with some write-offs for tools and boots. Can she be penalized for this, will this effect her SSDI income?

    Should I go ahead and file my taxes (not sure if you can help me there) or should I just chalk it off. The tax problem would be: do we file jointly or does she file her own SSDI claim and then I claim my step daughter and also claim her. Any help would be appreciated, also this is in Ohio if that’s relevant to the situation.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Kyle,

      Thank you for the question. First, I am not a tax professional and so cannot give you any recommendations with regards to taxes. With regards to your wife’s SSDI, your income will not affect her SSDI benefits at all. SSDI benefits do not depend upon household income and resources. Thus, there is no reason to report that information to SSA. If you wife receives SSI (instead of SSDI as you indicated), then your income may affect the amount of benefit your wife receives. SSI does use the household income and resources to determine the amount of the SSI benefit. Your wife is required to report household income to SSA.

      I hope this helps.

      David

      • Keli Walker says:

        & if I work part time what do I put on my reason for receiving benefits cause there is no way id make enough to live on without benefits and medicare gotta have that.

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Kyle, your described situation would not prevent you and your wife from filing your taxes jointly. The IRS expects you to report ANY type of income. With that said, the deduction for tools and boots must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income (joint income if filing jointly, your single income if filing separately) before you can deduct it. In addition, to deduct any tools or work-related expenses you must itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. The standard deduction for single or married filing separate filers is $5950, and the standard deduction for married filing joint is $11,900. If your itemized deductions such as mortgage interest and work-related expenses do not exceed these amounts then it would make more sense to simply take the standard deduction.

  20. kyle says:

    Thank you guys. I’ll have to see what the tax lady says when I go to my appointment, but I appreciate that info Rachel and dgalinis.

  21. Walter Frazier says:

    This is the best blog I have read on this subject and should people try to accommodate their disability to be as productive as possible.

  22. kyle says:

    a lot of people are afraid to work because they might get their benefits cut. ill have to find out more about my wifes situation then ask some more info on this blog. i am very happy i found this place and very appreciative for the info you guys provide! thanks so much.

    i do have one question. im legally disabled due to a drug possession and felony i had in 2003. enough that i bought a firearm to protect my home and was sentenced to probation and 3 years in prison if i mess up.

    since its hard to find a job with this disability, and im legally disabled. can i file for ssi or disability? i do have legitimate problems also but no insurance so i just have to deal with the bi polar and depression.

  23. rose says:

    hi
    ive been on ssdi for 12 years now ‘back issues’ im 38 now i did the work trial period and have continued working on and off same place for almost 3 years now ive been in the extended period which i only have till june to decide if i can continue working or not i have 2 questions 1 if i stop working and go back on disability before extension is up will they calculate the 25000 a year ive made over the past 3 years and change my benefit amount? question 2 if i continue to work past the 3 years and need to reapply in the future how hard will it be to get approved again?

    • dgalinis says:

      Rose,

      Thank you for your questions. First, the additional earnings may change your benefit. If the new average earnings were higher than your average earnings when the benefit amount was originally calculated you may see a change in your benefit amount. I would not expect a dramatic increase. Second, if you continue to work after your Extended Period of Entitlement ends your benefits will cease. At that point you will have 5 years to apply for Expedited Reinstatement of your benefits. The good news is that when you apply for Expedited Reinstatement, your benefits begin immediately. SSA will still have to review your case and medical records to determine if you are entitled to disability benefits, but the checks start immediately.

      Good luck,
      David

  24. June Bryant says:

    I’m 62 and I have been disabled since 1997 due too many back surgeries (2 lumbar, 3 cervical). I contracted a post op. staph infection after my last cervical surgery and almost lost my life. That’s when I was considered disabled. There is a clause in my contract that says Medicare will not cover anything that has to do with my spine. Go figure! I collect $720 SSDI and do some light work to make ends meet. I water a man’s garden twice a week but have to use a lawn chair since I can’t stand for any length of time. I earn $80 a week unless it rains. I also do pet sitting for him on occasion when he travels. I don’t make enough money to file taxes. Do I have to report these earnings to social security? If so, will they lower the amount of money I receive? I am forced to deposit the money in the bank in order to pay my bills.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear June,

      Thank you for the comment. When receiving disability benefits, SSA requires that you notify them of any change in your work activity. SSA indicates that you:

      “can report changes in your work activity by phone, fax, mail, or in person. Call our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit your local SSA office.”

      If you are receiving SSDI benefits, the earnings you describe should not affect your benefit amount. If you are receiving SSI benefits, however, the amount of your benefits may be affected.

      David

      • June Bryant says:

        Okay, thank you David. Shoot, ya can’t win for loosin’. I’ve only had the job for a few weeks and was hoping to use the money to pay off an $8000.00 debt that I ran up over the years charging, home owners insurance, property tax, home repairs, car repairs and medical bills for my back. Guess I better bite the bullet and give them a call ASAP. But what happens when the man I work for dies or moves to a nursing home? He’s 87 and in bad health. Once he’s gone, I’ll be back to square one. I doubt anyone else would hire me to do something so trivial. Will I have to start all over again and re-apply for SSI? Or should I quit the job and eventually file for bankruptcy? God help me.

        • dgalinis says:

          June,

          SSA requires notification of any “change” in work activity. Thus if the job ends you would notify SSA of that fact as well. If you are receiving SSDI benefits, it should not have impacted your benefit amount at all. If you are receiving SSI benefits the work activity may have caused a decrease in benefits. But, if the job endsand you notify SSA, the SSI benefits should then revert to their previous level.

          David

          • June Bryant says:

            That’s wonderful news. As I sat down and figured things out, I’d only be losing $20 a month in SSI payments and maybe food stamp benefits, which is embarrassing anyway. Will it affect my medicare insurance? Don’t know if I will be able to afford Obama-care. I promise, this is my last question. I can’t seem to find these answers online. I’m only working 4 hours a week so this job offer is a God-send, temporary or not. Maybe I now can get a small jump on this cc debt. Thank you so much for your help in this matter.

          • dgalinis says:

            The work activity you described should not affect your entitlement to Medicare. If you meant “Medicaid,” that is a bit out of my area of expertise. First, Medicaid is administered by the states and each state’s rules are different. Second, Medicaid eligibility rules are vast and complex and probably the sole topic of various other blogs on the internet. However, if you are still receiving some amount of SSI benefits, I believe your Medicaid benefits would remain intact.

            David

  25. Lauren G says:

    My question is my father was providing after school daycare for 2 of my children until I got home from work, this was M-F 3 hours a day totaling 15 hours a week. The Department of social services was paying him to provide the care. My father passed away unexpectedly last week. I want my mother to continue the care and be paid to do so by DSS, she receives SSD. Can a few hundred dollars a month (less than $500.00) make her disqualified from SSD?
    Thanks
    -Lauren

    • dgalinis says:

      Lauren,

      Thank you for your comment. The earnings you describe should not affect your mother’s eligibility for SSD benefits. However, I use the word “should” because the amount earned per month is not the only criteria SSA can use. I have recently updated this post to reflect actual language from SSA regulations on this subject. See above.

      David

  26. Terry says:

    I am a rep payee for a person who has been receiving SSI and who will be receiving SSD benefits for the first time starting in a couple of months. Since SSD benefits are paid in arrears- Get Aprils SSD payment at the beginning of May and SSI benefits are not- get Aprils SSI payment at the beginning of April, do I have to return any of the SSI money since he is technically getting both benefits SSI and SSD in the same month?

    • dgalinis says:

      Terry,

      Thank you for your question. This should be taken care of by SSA automatically as they are aware of (and in fact the source of) both payments. If you want to be on the safe side I would hold the SSI benefits for that month in case you receive an overpayment notice the next month.

      David

  27. Jennifer says:

    I am receiving disability for a painful bladder disease. Sadly the money I receive is not nearly as much as I use to make working and we are having a hard time keeping up. A friend has asked if I can watch her child in my home, paying me 700.00 a month. I have two other children. The child would be at our house for 50 hours a week, although my husband works from home and helps me watch the two we have, and would help watch this child as well. Is this considered “self employment”? I was reading you cannot work more than 80 hours in a month for self employment.

    • dgalinis says:

      Jennifer,

      Thank your for your question. It certainly would be considered to be self employment. The rules are different and not so clear for self-employed individuals. SSA regulations provide that they will “consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements.” CFR § 404.1575(a)(2). Unfortunately, there is no easy answer with self-employed individuals.

      Using just the earnings per month, this work activity should not terminate your benefits. However, as I indicate in my post, any work activity could theoretically be used as a basis for terminating your benefits.

      David

  28. Tina says:

    Hi there,
    My husband has been on ssdi for about 12 years due to Rhuematoid Arthritis. He had recently found a good paying part – time job he has been able to maintain. We have read extensively about the “working while disabled” rules. There is one question we can’t find the answer to. During the extended trial period (36 months) if there is a month he goes over the $1040.00 amount and does not get his benefit – will his children still get theirs for that month?
    Thank you,
    Tina

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Tina,

      That is a very good question. I could not find any SSA law, regulation or policy regarding that specific question. Based upon my analysis, the children’s benefits would also stop, given that children’s benefits are only paid if the claimant is still disabled. If working at a level above SGA, the claimant is no longer “disabled” and, therefore, the children’s benefits are not payable. I have confirmed this with secondary sources.

      David

  29. Rosangelica Lantigua says:

    Hi, I am 15 years old and I would like to get a part-time job. I am a full time student, and my father receives disability benefits. He says that I cannot get a job or else Social Security will take away his benefits. Is this true? The website states that he can receive family benefits if his children are unmarried, under 18, and full time students.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Roseangelica,

      Thank you for your comment. If your father receives SSI benefits then the amount of household income (including your earnings) may impact his benefits. If your father receives SSDI benefits, you earnings should have no impact on his benefits.

      David

  30. Angela Dots says:

    Hello, my husband started employing in his business as a way for us to get health insurance. I really don’t work but we pay taxes on my pretend wages. The judge and attorney knew this when we went to court. I was put on disability and now I have medicare insurance. I feel we need to remove me from the company payroll. I’m concerned that this is not legal. I don’t want to lose my benefits or worse, be labeled as a fraud.

    Angela

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Angela,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately this is outside my legal experience. I would encourage you to speak to a business law attorney.

      David

      • Tracey says:

        I’m on SSA for over 10 years but now the living cost went very hight , my SSA money is not enough for my living , can I work part time job? I how much I can get so its not effect to my SSA money and my Medicare benefit , or if I work part time SSA will cut off my money ? Thank you

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Tracey,

          Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, the post you commented on contains most of my advice on that subject. Theoretically if you make less than $1040 per month you should be okay. But the regulations do allow for SSA to look more deeply into any work that you do to determine whether or not you are still disabled.

          David

  31. Rosangelica Lantigua says:

    My sister and I qualify for his disability benefits on his record. Can I still get a job?

    • dgalinis says:

      Roseangelica,

      I do not understand your question. Can you provide more details?

      David

      • Rosangelica Lantigua says:

        My father receives SSDI benefits. My sister and I receive benefits on his record. Will me getting a part-time job impact these benefits?

        • dgalinis says:

          Roseangelica,

          Thank you for providing additional information. If your benefits are based upon your father’s disability, they will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on these benefits because you will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

          David

  32. Lona Shepherd says:

    I have been in SSDI since about 2001. I have had some serious anxiety and panic issues. It has taken me years to try to work through this. That said, I decided to try to go back to work in 2006. After several attempts at a couple small jobs I finally found a part-time job that has been good for me. I completed my trial work period in 2007; I went from full-time to part-time because I could not handle the full-time yet. I just started school online in Aug. 2012 and I was offered a full-time job in February. I have been working full-time now for a month and just turned in copies of my new income. My anxiety is working a little over-time worrying about the transition. I wanted to ask about the trial work period you mentioned recycling every 5 years. I am just waiting to be cut off immediately and possibly have to pay back the check I received this month. I also just received the income for the new job this month. I have never heard of the TWP recycling, is that new? Also Since I am past the 36 month period you spoke about, does it sound like I will be cut off immediately and have to pay back this month’s check? I have worked hard to move past my issues and I still take some medicine as needed and some medicine daily. I want to support myself; it is just the transitioning and fear that occurs in the process. Thank you for your time. God Bless

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Lona,

      Thank you for your comment. The TWP 60 month recycling provision can be found in the regulations: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1592.htm. (Look at (e)(2)). I do not know when the regulation was enacted, but it is not a new development. If you are past the 36 month EPE, any wages above the SGA level ($1040 for 2013) will trigger the termination of benefits. If you were paid benefits for that month you may indeed be required to pay that month’s benefits back.

      David

      • ryan conerly says:

        hi, I am in similar situation. I received benefits at the first of this month and started a job 2 weeks later in which I will receive over the $1040 this month. this is my first month of TWP, will I have to pay back my benefits for the month??

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Ryan,

          Thank you for your comment. The Trial Work Period (TWP) is the nine month period where you can make more than SGA and still receive your disability benefits each of those months. So you should not have to pay back that month of benefits as it was your first month of your TWP.

          David

    • Keli Walker says:

      Me again a waitress job would that considering me not disabled its a simple job

  33. amanda says:

    I have a question, I think it would be self employment but not sure. If I wanted to sell tupperware or mary kay, something to that extent, a lot of online orders so not “real” work, will this affect my SSD. Is this something that has to be reported even if I don’t make enough to have to file taxes?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Amanda,

      Thank you for your comment. The type of work you describe would be considered to be self employment. The rules are different and not so clear for self-employed individuals. SSA regulations provide that they will “consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements.” CFR § 404.1575(a)(2). Unfortunately, there is no easy answer with self-employed individuals.

      Finally, SSA requires that you report any work activity.

      David

  34. Hello. I have a comment about working part time while collecting SSDI. I have been on SSDI for about 6 years for a variety of medical issues. It is very hard to live on disability. But, as you state “any work can be used as evidence that you are no longer disabled” . Here in Virginia, any work at all seems to generate a review of my case, and they get back to me later that “my disablity is continuing. But, that may not be the case if i push it too far, such as work a regular 700 a month job!! So….i would say keep your part time work at say, no more than 300-400 hundred.

    Paul

  35. ari102 says:

    First I want to say your page has been very informative. I have two questions. Prior to becoming disabled in 2007 I use to own a collectible card business (online and flea market storefront). I still have some of inventory. Last year around Christmast time I sold a small collection for $700 through craigslist. I know it’s my decision whether or not I report to the IRS however if I do then will this count towards my 9 month TWP? It was a one time sale and I had it listed for about 3 weeks not even a full month. If I do report to the IRS then I would be filing income taxes for 2012 otherwise I won’t be filing. This was the only additional income other than SSDI that I received last year. I should mention that I receive SSDI and not SSI. My second question is my teenage daughter who also receives SSDI benefits (because of me) is turning 16 and would like a part time job. Would that affect the benefit amount that she receives monthly (or my benefit amount)? Thanks for your time and have a great weekend!

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. The $700 in income is below the threshold to count as a trial work Month. (See TWP Amounts). With regards to your second question, working a part time job should not affect your family benefits because she will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if she makes more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

      David

  36. Scott MacLachlan says:

    I’ve been receiving SSDI since 2007 (body’s an orthopedic basket-case from years in construction/six spinal fusions + numerous other injuries), but having been a musician years earlier, I composed/produced a fair amount of production music cues, which I’ve been posting on YouTube over the past 3 years.
    As luck would have it, I received a absolute fluke of a call from a NY ad agency, who wants to license one of my music cues (one year term) for a national TV commercial, which would likely pay in the range of 3 to 6 thousand dollars.
    The odds of this happening over the next few years are slim & none, but what are my options?
    Do I have the ad agency break down the payments over 6 months (which is not uncommon), or would that be considered suppression of income? Licence it to the ad agency for only $1,039 dollars, or just pray really hard for another opportunity to land in my lap, as this one did, and likely never will again?
    My wife & I (living week to week, already) are currently paying the IRS $10,000 in back taxes, and I’d love to pay a big chunk of that off, but if I lose my SSDI benefits, we’re totally up the creek w/o the proverbial paddle.

    Scott

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Scott,

      First, recall from my post above that earnings will not automatically terminate your benefits. Both the trial work period and the extended period of eligibility provide for some amount of continuing benefits even while working. Second, you would probably rather have your payments in a lump sum so that it only counts as one month of your trial work period. If the payments are spread out over time, you might exhaust more months of your trial work period.

      David

  37. overthemoonforbooks says:

    I have been receiving SSDI since 2007 and am thinking of volunteering but have been told that I risk losing my benefits. I was also looking into offering proofreading services to help supplement my income but I may or may not get requests every month and the most I would make would be $150 a month. How would that effect my benefits?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Technically volunteering or making only $150 per month should not affect your benefits as they are below the amount necessary to be considered SGA. However, as I indicated in my post, “[i]f there is evidence, however, showing that an individual may be engaging in SGA, or appears to be in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings, develop fully the facts concerning the comparability of the employee’s work to that of unimpaired individuals, and the worth of the employee’s work . . . .”

      David

      • overthemoonforbooks says:

        Would I be considered self-employed since I would only being accepting work on a project by project basis? The only reason I’m even considering doing this is because of an increase in my rent and other expenses. I’m on disability because I suffer from several forms of mental illness and have suffered a nervous breakdown. Even just thinking about the fact that this small amount could jeopardize my benefits has caused a panic attack. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

        • dgalinis says:

          Will you receive a W2 form (from your employer) for the income? If not, you are self employed. Given the language in the SSA regulations, it is really difficult as an attorney to give you any absolute assurances that work activity would not impact your benefits. Odds are that the amounts you are talking about would be no problem, but there are no guarantees.

          David

  38. Marie Osgood says:

    I have been on SSDI since April 2009 at the age of 62. I will be turning 66 this month April 26. I would like to try to return to work part time just to see if I could do it physically.Not sure I can but want to try. Do I have to let social security know about it? Do I have to wait until I am fully 66 on the 26th of this month before I can apply for a job.
    Also will I have to pay any ssdi benefits back. Thank you for your help?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Marie,

      Thank you for your comment. Once you reach your full retirement age (should be 66 for you), there are no restrictions on your earnings. I don’t believe there are any requirements to notify SSA of earnings after you reach full retirement age.

      David

      • Marie Osgood says:

        Thank so much for your reply as I hope to return to work part time.Living on ss just isn’t enough these days with the cost of living .

    • In regard to “working part time while disabled” of course collecting SSDI
      is a huge cut in what many made in their career, but not every body. In my career, i usually made just 15,000 a year or so. So, you see, many people
      do not have great incentive to return, even if health is better. And if
      you are over 50 like me, you are still too weak, or sick, to keep it up for long.

  39. Gary says:

    I was just wondering as I read over the bulletin here.. I am 32 yo and have been on Social Security Disabilities since 2008 because of anxiety issues, PTSD, and Bipolar.. I currently just moved on my own and my benefits aren’t enough for now as i haven fallen in debt. So I was thinking of working just about 4-5 months and make as much as I can and then quit, just so I could get out of debt. I know that the social security office says they give you 9 month work trial period and they say you will continue benefits.. What my question is can they say anytime during the 9 months, well your going to work so your no longer disabled and just cut my benefits off before the 9 month period.. That is really wha I am worried about. I am afraid it is just some kind of trick to see if someone is really disabled.. I dont even know how long I can even hold a job down so I was just wondering.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Gary,

      Thank you for the comment. It is no “trick,” SSA does give you a 9 month period during which you continue to receive benefits while working. The goal of the program is to remove the disincentive from trying to work. If there were no trial work period and you were not sure if you could work or not, you may not even try because you would lose your monthly benefits. The trial work period allows you to make an attempt to return to work without the risk of losing your benefits.

      David

      • Jamie says:

        I would like to use the ticket to work to go to college.i hear there is a 6 year progress plan . I want to finish a mental health degree because of my mental illness I have a great interest in learning more about psychology. What are the protections of my check with this?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Jamie,

          Thank you for your comment. I do not have any firsthand experience with the Ticket To Work program. My understanding is that the program is mainly about providing the disabled person with resources to assist them in returning to work. The rules as mentioned above regarding work activity still apply to individuals in the ticket to work program. The only additional protection I am aware of is that SSA will not initiate a review of your medical eligibility for disability while you are in the program. The rules regarding earnings that I describe above apply to everyone, whether they are in the ticket to work program or not.

          David

  40. Michael says:

    I recently was approved for disability. I have spent my years doing a little writing and put together a book. I was wondering if I publish the book and made some royalties on it, how would that affect my disability payments? I don’t anticipate receiving large amounts in royalties but I don’t want to loose my payments when I am doing no work and may receive a small income over a long period of time. Is it possible to publish the book and still stay on disability?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Michael,

      Thank you for you comment. This is a popular question. Check out my responses to comments posted to this blog on 4/11/12 and 9/7/12.

      David

  41. David G says:

    David –

    First of all, you have created a fantastic resource that I wish I had found years ago. It would have made the application process much easier.

    In late 2011, before my judgement, I found a great part-time job that I could handle with my mental health issues; a job that I can do from home, at any time and for any period I wish, as long as a deadline is met (and I even have some wiggle room there). Last year I was paid by the hour and received a gross income of $8,669 ($722/mo – $167/wk). The amount varied month to month, exceeding the SGA limit one time.

    With the stress associated with the ups and downs of my income, I asked my employer if he could just pay me a weekly salary (which I believe is legal in Maryland as I am an administrator) equal to what I made per week in 2012 and he agreed. I also received a favorable judgement in January of this year, so I now have to worry about exceeding the TWP threshold (which I just recently became aware of), which is coincidentally close to what I would likely be making.

    1) How is a month counted when you are paid a weekly salary?
    2) How likely will a consistent income close to the TWP threshold (assuming the $722 is correct) red flag me?
    3) If it does, will an explanation from my psychiatrist explaining the reasoning for the consistent income likely be sufficient to satisfy the SGA?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your comment. With regards to your first question, it’s as simple as adding up how much you make each month. Multiplying your weekly salary by 4 is pretty close to your monthly amount. With regards to your second and third questions I really can’t say anything for certain. My belief is that consistent income (as opposed to sporadic) is more troublesome and may cause a review.

      David

  42. Bottom line…… don’t work even part time — it will generate a medical review, and you get a
    pile of papers from SSA, to verify why you are able to do this. And to be fair to the Government,
    you will often hear attorney’s clarify ” if you are disabled, you are disabled”…”If you are not, you are not.” There is no “grey” area…….

    • Jane says:

      I’m curious why you say this…

      • Theresa says:

        I agree with Jane….I have been disabled since 1998 due to brain surgery and my neck being reconstructed. I am single and cannot live on $978 a month, especially in Wisconsin as it barely covers the heating bills :) I have a double bachelor degree and feel WORTHLESS when I don’t work, not to mention I couldn’t possibly live on less then $1000 per month… so I work part time as a substitute teacher….I work when I feel good enough to but don’t when I can’t the most I can handle is two days (where are you going to find an employer that allows this)….I never make $1000 a month but I’m concerned about my disability getting reduced accordingly..

  43. Michelle says:

    Hi David,

    I’m legally blind and considering a position that would pay less that the $1,740 a month SGA threshold. The position however is full-time. So my question is, does SSA look at the fact that I’m working 40 hours a week or is that $$ amount threshold what they consider?
    Obviously there is not cure presently for being “blind” and my qualifying disability will not have improved or ceased to exist. Is it possible that I could continue to receive SSDI indefinitely as long as my month income does not exceed that SGA amount?

    Thank you, M

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, the post you commented on contains most of my advice on that subject. Theoretically if you make less than the SGA amount per month you should be okay. But the regulations do allow for SSA to look more deeply into any work that you do to determine whether or not you are still disabled.

      David

  44. Michelle says:

    Thank you David, the comments string here is very useful and an interesting read. I just want to clarify when you say:

    “I advise my clients that any work, at any income level, can be used as evidence that you are able to work. While your work may be at amounts that are below SGA and TWP, it is conceivable that the work activity itself could be used as a basis for determining that you are no longer disabled.”

    That in this circumstance, the SSA determines that you are “no longer disabled” does that turn on the 36 month “clock” so to speak, in which you would continue to receive benefits for 36 months as long as you remain under the “blind” $1,740 SGA amount?

    -M

  45. morgan canon says:

    This is a very informative blog sir, and id just like to say thank you for providing answers that a decade of running around social security offices has failed to yield. Ive been on the radar of a ssdi representative for 3 years now that wants every pay stub i get, and cant seem to wrap her head around the idea that not everyone recieves 1 check each month. As i recieve checks every other friday, i wasnt aware that some months i was recieving 3 checks and therefore going over the $1000 limit. she has sent my case for review for collection of overpayment twice now. both reviews came back as not owing, but now she has sent me a letter stating my trial months are over and im going to be reviewed again in july? ive been on disability since losing my arm and destroying my back in 2001. i put myself through school and tried returning to work in 2009. it failed and i blew out another disc, so after a year off ssdi, restarted it in nov 2010. for 2011 i was making the error i refered to above. after realizing the mathmatical error with the extra paychecks on long months, i reduced my hours a bit so i would never go over the limit. on this last round of demands from her office they requested all of my paystubs from the past year. the company i work for has automatic deposit, but i can access 6 months of paystubs. i turned those over with a copy of my w2′s and then circled, highlighted and made notations on the paystub copy the year total income, and total vacation income (non billable according to ssdi since not considered worked?). after speaking with the representative several times informing her that my company will not release older pay stubs, and that she would have to send the request, i got a notice today requireing that i bring the same stubs i cant get to the review?? Sooo after that long winded description, do i have the right to request a new overlord? since the stubs i provided and the w2′s showed that i earned more than a thousand dollars under the limit for the year, will i still be liable for the missing stubs before this review? as you pointed out in another response, dont they have all that information already? And last question i promise, should i get to the end of my 36 month “entitlement” (hate that word) period, having made $800/month and never more, will checks just end and i need to request reinstatement, or will i get a notice first, or will it just continue since im making less that substantial earnings?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Morgan,

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your term “overlord,” but I know of no way to request a new one. Also please refer to my post where I indicated that even though your monthly wages are below SGA, SSA could still find that you are no longer disabled based on your work activity. Finally, at the end of your 36 month Extended Period of Entitlement (EPE) you will actually continue to receive your monthly checks until the first month that you exceed SGA. Then your benefits will stop and you would have to apply for Expedited Reinstatement.

      David

      • morgan says:

        thank you for clearing that up for me David. I now have a written reply from my company explaining why they do not supply pay stubs, and a rather complicated account of my earnings and expenses that only an accountant can make heads or tails of. i will be bringing that in on monday and asking to speak with her supervisor. if i have any luck, ill let you know. Morgan

      • Jamie says:

        So let me understand this : if I make 500 a month for 9 months I’m still under the sga and if I continue making 500 a month after the9 months they will not cut my check for 36 month and I will continue to receive full benefits including my children’s benefits? And if so will this trigger a cdr sooner than is scheduled for. Third, if my benefits query states that i have a 3 year diary and I will be reviewed in 12/14 and my award letter stated 5-7 years …. Why are they reviewing me sooner. Can I call so the mistake is fixed ?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Jamie,

          If you never make more than $500 per month, your benefits should continue unless a) they decide that you are in a position to suppress earnings, etc. as described above or b) they find you no longer medically disabled through a continuing disability review (CDR). I do not know what prompts a CDR. Moreover, just because the original favorable decision may have indicated a certain time period for a CDR does not mean it will happen then, if ever.

          David

  46. Michelle says:

    Hi David,

    How do work incentives affect SGA? For example, if I worked at my children’s school and received a 50% discount in tuition, is that considered?
    Also, how long is one eligible for expedited reinstatement? And when does that clock begin ticking? At the beginning of your EPE, at the end of the 36 month EPE?

    Thank you,
    Michelle

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Michelle,

      Thank you for the comment. As to your first question, we need to get the terminology correct. A 50% discount in tuition would be considered a “payment in-kind” not a “work incentive.” Payments in-kind are payments for work activity in forms other than cash. Social security regulations provide that payments in-kind are considered as part of your earnings for SGA purposes. With regards to your second question, you have 5 years from the month your benefits ended to request expedited reinstatement.

      David

  47. Sunshine says:

    I am currently applying for SSDI. My daughter receives survivor benefits from her deceased father(we never married) & I’m wondering if this income will make me ineligible since it is SGA over $1000.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Sunshine,

      Thank you for the comment. Your daughter’s survivor benefits are not earnings (thus not counted for SGA purposes). Those benefits should have nothing to do with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.

      David

  48. Brian Porter says:

    Hi David,

    I will go back to work soon . I’m receiving SSD now. Will my payments continue ay my normal rate of pay per month even if I make lets say $2,500 per month or will they deduct from my normal monthly benefit based on what I will be making at this new job ?

  49. Gary says:

    I have been on disability since july 2011, due to physical limitations, I have an opportunity to make some additional money during the upcoming summer months,(with no physical demands) probably $1500-$2000(total-total income) for the next 5 months. Will I be in danger of losing my SS Disability benefits with this income?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Gary,

      Thank you for your comment. You will probably have no issues. However, my post speaks for itself with regards to the potential affects of any work activity on your benefits.

      David

  50. Nice Day says:

    Dear Gary, I’ve recently just been approved for disability, that starts next month but also just picked up a part time job. I know I’m supposed to stay under the limit of 1040, but lets say that the check i receive next month has days from the previous month. Will those days from the previous month effect the NEXT months limit of 1040?

  51. shawn says:

    SGA says you can’t exceed 1,040 a month but, do I count my ssi disability earnings as well? Or just my earnings itself?

  52. Chelle says:

    Hi. I am 36 and live at home with my spouse. I have mental health and physical health problems and am on ssdi. I want to attempt making crafts at home with my husband and best friend and try to sell them. I don’t see an outside job ever being a reality for me, but my quality of life sucks so I want to at least try doing the self employed thing with the crafts as therapy and maybe make a little bit. Now after reading all this I am more overwhelmed. My husband doesn’t make much and if I lost my disability we would be homeless. I no longer drive and sleep a lot, as well as deal with chronic pain. I just am not sure what to do. I guess I am just verbalizing it. Thank you for your blog.

  53. William says:

    Hello, I filled out a work activity report for ss it came back and said everything was fine but on the letter it say we will forward your file to,dds for a medical review. Does this mean my medial review will happen earlier then my diary date? Do all letters after you will out a work activity report say that? The job I had was a work study job in my school I was making 300 a month and i got accommodations on the job. Thanks

    • William says:

      Also when social security does do a cdr what are the chances of losing benefits? I also have a Individual work plan with a state rehab agency I think that might help me if they review me.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear William,

      Thank you for your comment. SSA needs certain forms completed before they will forward the file to the state agency to determine disability. This is standard procedure. You also inquired about “CDR” or continuing disability review. The chance of losing benefits depends on the facts of each case. I can not opine as to what the chances are that you might lose benefits.

      David

      • William says:

        Thanks so much. I got the better back in jan, regarding the results of my work activity report. I wonder why it takes so long to send me the medical cdr. I guess I’ll just wait I dought they will do a early medical cdr just becuase I worked in my college. Have a nice day.

  54. Jane says:

    What a great post, and your responses to questions have been very enlightening. Thank you.

    My question is a bit different. I am disabled (SSDI) due to chronic anxiety, PTSD, depression since 2009.
    I’m 52 now, so I have a ways to go before I am in any kind of a ‘safe zone’ regarding trying to make some extra money to help pay the bills. My 2nd breakdown caused the disconnect from my last job. I haven’t worked since then.

    In 2011, I signed up as a fluke to become a member for a new online social media site that said they would pay their members 50% of their net profits once they became profitable. Long story short, they’re aiming at the first payment of 50% of net profits to start in September. I never expected to get a notification like this, but I did, so now I’m worried.
    The amounts of the payments will vary, and will not be anywhere near the $740 amount for 2013, but I have to be proactive so I can reduce the anxiety I’m already feeling about this, being afraid I won’t be able to accept the payments because it will cut me off from SSDI.
    I’m not sure if this will be considered ‘earned’ income. Would it? The company is private, and will go public with an IPO in 2014 or 2015.

    Or should I first find out from the company how they will categorize the payments before you can attempt to answer if these payments will jeopardize disability, since they aren’t really ‘earned’ income?

    Thanks again for being so helpful to others. It means a lot to everyone who has posted, I’m sure of that, and to me as well!

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jane,

      Thank you for your comment. The income you describe certainly sounds like investment income and, as such, would not count against either your TWP or SGA thresholds. I think it is a good idea to discuss this with the company and make sure they are going to report it as investment income and not earnings. Maybe even get a letter from them just in case SSA inquires about the income at some point in the future.

      David

      • Jane says:

        Thank you. I’v asked for information to get in touch with the company’s tax accountant.
        I wasn’t sure if this would really be investment income due to the fact that there are no “shares” that anyone owns; it’s just being paid 50% prorata per person of net profit.
        I appreciate your take on this, and also the suggestions of getting a letter from them.

      • Angelique says:

        Hi David ^.^ my name is Angelique I’m 15 years old and I’m turning 16 in at the end of January. My dad is currently receiving disability and I was wondering if I was to get a job would they take away the money he is recieving for me?

        • dgalinis says:

          Thank you for your comment. If your benefits are based upon your father’s disability, they will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on these benefits because you will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

          David

  55. Dear Sir,
    when i was reading your blog looking for an answer to my question (which someone asked too) your only answer was to refer to a previous post. I’ve read through this whole thing twice and though it’s very informative in most aspects, my question isn’t answer. so i apologize for repeating a question but if your on SSA (I’m drawing off my fathers SSA because I’m consider an Adult dependent child, also he died last year so now it’s survivor’s pay) and you publish a book how would it effect your benefits? i may not even get publish but my teachers and professors think I’m a good storyteller and it’ll be simply a matter of time. i haven’t sent any in because if i succeed as a one time thing, I’ll have a hard time getting back on SSA.
    thank for reading,
    Alicorna Kirin Kain

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Billie,

      Thank you for your comment. First, if you publish a book and receive income for the effort, it will be considered earnings as you have certainly “worked” for that income. Second, recall from my post above that earnings above the TWP or SGA threshold amounts will not automatically terminate your benefits. Both the trial work period and the extended period of eligibility provide for some amount of continuing benefits even while working. Third, the earnings will be counted in the month that you receive them. If the monthly payments are above the TWP threshhold, you would probably rather have your payments in a lump sum so that it only counts as one month of your trial work period. If the payments are spread out over time, you might exhaust more months of your trial work period. Finally, if you are wildly successful all this won’t matter so start writing!

      David

  56. Leenie Welch says:

    I am 60 years old and have been on SSD since 1986. I am more disabled than when I was approved from a serious chronic disease ravishing my body over the years. I may have the opportunity to work a few hours a week from home, even while I lay in bed sick, to help a little with the bills. I would be given a laptop to use and I could work as I felt able, as long as I worked at least 8 hours a week. I doubt I would ever be able to work more than that, but even 8 hours would be a help. I hate to pass up this opportunity when we really need the money and I never came across a job that would be so accommodating to my disability. I would never be able to work enough to make $750 in a month. Since I am 60 years old and I have been on SSD for 27 years do I need to be afraid that a small amount of earnings would result in my losing my benefits? An opportunity like this will not come along again.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Leenie,

      Thank you for your comment. Because you are not at your retirement age (66), your age does not matter in this analysis. The years you have been on SSD also does not matter. You should not have anything to worry about with the work you describe. I can not offer anything more definitive because of the language in the regulations that allows SSA to look at work activity even if it is below the SGA threshold.

      David

  57. Stephen Messina says:

    I am 19 yrs. old and have had two strokes in the cognitive part of my brain. I was just recently told by my parents that i recieve a monthly check from social security. I cant believe i wasnt told about this for a little over a year. I have been to many doctors in the past year and i found out that i also have seizures in the brain(focal). I have frequent problems with a pounding heart rate. I am taking a handful of meds to regulate my problems. I looked up online about how to take control of my ssi benefits and i learned that i would have to write a detailed letter describing my concerns about my benefits i recieve. Im moving out of my parents house soon and i would like some advice on this troubling situation. Thank you. Sincerely, Stephen Messina.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Stephen,

      Thank you for you comment. You need to write (and or visit) your local SSA office and indicate to them that you no longer need a representative payee. They may require some documentation from your doctor confirming that you do not need a representative payee.

      David

  58. Anthony says:

    If someone has a individual work plan done by a state agency will that help during a CDR if the claimant is making timely progress at work goal

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Anthony,

      Thank you for your comment. I am not sure I understand your question. If you are referring to the Ticket to Work Program, SSA indicates the follwoing:

      “Social Security cannot perform a medical “Continuing Disability Review” to determine whether you continue to have a disability while you are participating in the Ticket Program, including receiving services from the State Vocational Rehabilitation agency, and progressing towards your employment goal, so only your earnings can affect your benefit eligibility.”

      David

  59. TJ says:

    Hello, I was wondering how SSA keeps track of the amounts that a person makes during a TWP or a EPE. Also, is there a standard review a recipient would go through while using the TWP or EPE months. And last, when writing a letter to the SSA indicating a desire to attempt to try a TWP would there be any certain way best, to phrase that letter. Thanks in advance

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear TJ,

      Thank you for your comment. First, SSA has access to and will continuously monitor all of your reported earnings. To the extent that you have unreported earnings, you have a continuing duty to report your work activity to SSA. Second, I am not aware of any type of automatic review that is triggered during the TWP or EPE other than counting the number of months you have remaining in your TWP or EPE. Third, there is no reason to write SSA to indicate your desire to attempt a TWP. As the earnings are reported to SSA, they will automatically consider you in a TWP for each month (up to 9) that your earnings exceed the TWP threshold.

      David

  60. TJ says:

    Hi David, Thank you for the quick reply. I’m just a little confused. Your answer say’s there is no reason to write SSA to indicate a desire to attempt a TWP, however I do have a duty to report any work activity to SSA. Would that be amounts earned under the TWP limit, and if so, how do I report my work activity under the TWP ? Best Regard

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear TJ,

      Yes, you are required to report work activity. I merely meant that you do not have to write them a letter indicating that you were considering a TWP. Activity which is ongoing or has happened is required to be reported. Though, to be honest, so long as the earnings are paid above the table, SSA will be notified regardless. Logistically, SSA indicates that you:
      “can report changes in your work activity by phone, fax, mail, or in person. Call our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit your local SSA office.”

      David

  61. Lynn says:

    I am on disability because of sever anxiety and have found that photography helps me to cope with it. Can I have a personal website showing the photos I take? I would like to set one up but am worried that I can loose my benefits because of it.

  62. Michael says:

    Dear David,

    I have couple of questions to ask you. I’m about to receive a settlement in the six figures, and will have to file taxes on it, will that affect my disability benefits (SSDI)?

    In regards to the settlement, I was planning to invest it in a partner’s business (out of state) He is forming a LLC/ S corporation and wants to list me as a member on it and I will receive 6% of gross sales for my part of the investment. Will this affect my benefits as well?

    I keep getting different conflicting stories.

    Sincerely,
    Michael

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Michael,

      Thank you for your comment. The figures used to determine whether you have engaged in SGA (or performed a month of your TWP) are based on earnings for work performed. Thus, personal injury settlements and returns on investment are not considered as you have not engaged in any work activity to receive that money.

      David

      • Orly says:

        My husband has been receiving Social Security Disability for the last 6 years due to mental illness. From my support and the support of his therapist and Psychiatrist he started playing music in a band. It has been extremely therapeutic for him, however, the other members of the band are considering forming a LLC to protect themselves from any incidents that could occur, such as a patron tripping on a piece of equipment and getting injured and wanting to sue. My question is will his benefits be affected if he becomes part of the LLC?.

        • dgalinis says:

          Thank you for your comment. Income received for work activity will be considered by the SSA. It doesn’t matter whether he is in an LLC or not — if there is income from the activity, SSA will consider whether he is working enough to impact his benefits.

          David

  63. Natalie Speas says:

    Your blog is very helpful in many ways, but I do have a question. I’ve been on SSDI for a few years and have been looking for part-time work. From what I understand if I return to a job that is like what I was doing before I could lose my benefits because one of the determining factors when you receive disability is that you cannot do what you were doing before. If I accept a job in a customer service call center (what I have the most experience in) even if I’m not making SGA, am I in danger of losing my benefits? I just can’t work full time and support myself without disability. I’m afraid to go back to work at all and I’m kind of at a loss. Thanks so much.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Natalie,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, the post you commented on contains most of my advice on that subject. Theoretically if you make less than the SGA amount per month you should be okay. But the regulations do allow for SSA to look more deeply into any work that you do to determine whether or not you are still disabled.

      David

      • Natalie Speas says:

        Dear David,

        Thank you for your reply. If I begin working and Social Security makes a negative decision, such as the work I’m engaged in means that I’m no longer disabled, would they give me a warning before stopping my benefits in order to give me the opportunity to stop working if that’s what I choose?

        Thank you,
        Natalie

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Natalie,

          First, make sure you take a look at the discussion of the Trial Work Period (TWP) and the Extended Period of Entitlement (EPE) I describe above. There are ways to continue your benefits even if you engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) after the 9 month TWP. Second, in my experience SSA does not send any warning letters. It seems that the first letter that people receive from SSA is that they have exhausted their TWP, are no longer considered disabled, and are now in their 36 month EPE. I recommend if you are attempting to return to work to keep detailed records of your earnings so that you know when the TWP is in jeopardy.

          David

  64. John says:

    Hello, I have a question as well. I collect SSDI and have for several years, however I am feeling as though I can go to work. I’ve trained to be a school bus driver and I was wondering f I make $1400 a month, but after taxes I make roughly $900-1000, can I still maintain my disability?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear John,

      Thank you for your comment. SGA and TWP threshold calculations are based on gross wages, not net wages. Thus, your $1400 per month gross wages would be considered both a TWP month and above SGA.

      David

  65. Steven says:

    This Country is CRAP. They give you a few dollars a month bait you with earning less then 1040 and then say they can use that against you if they feel like it. I am 60. I get 1050 a month and have the opportunity to work part-time for 250 a week GROSS. I do so and it stays under their guidelines. I also sell at flea markets and on eBay to help have a living and so far it’s been 7 years and I have not lost my benefits. I did once for working too much but they did an emergency reinstatement per their Ticket to work program. I have not clue how a federal worker can have different rules than the rest of the working class running this country and paying the federal bill. I love Obama and had high hopes of him but seems he just can’t seem to get the things done we hoped he would. He should have been stead fast on the Public Option then everyone could have Medicare. The conservative base of this country continue to run it in the ground for the working class and look out for business class people only and that God forsaken Wall street that has caused this country more harm than Pearl Harbor or September 11 2001.
    My 2 cents worth,

    Respectfully of course

  66. will says:

    Hey my name is will and I’m 17 working at a fast food. resturaunt . I receive a social security check due to my father .what is the maximum I can make before my benefits are cut?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Will,

      Thank you for your question. If your benefits were based upon the death of your father, they are called “survivor’s benefits.” These benefits will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on your survivor’s benefits. This is because you will probably not earn enough to affect your benefits. Survivor’s benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

      David

  67. Carolyn says:

    Dear David

    I am a veterinarian of 25 years. I have not worked since becoming disabled due to mild brain injury and bipolar disorder in 2008. I have not worked since that time. I have, however, held out hope that my condition could improve, and have been renewing my professional license yearly. I have not had the heart to let it go since being a vet was a lifelong dream since age 7, and it is a huge part of my identity. Keeping a current license only requires going to 10 hours of continuing education lectures a year, some on site and some in person. There are hundreds of CME lectures offered yearly, so I cancel if not feeling well and attend when I am. There are no tests administered so the only requirement is to show up for the lectures and pay my annual renewal fee. Am I risking my benefits by keeping a current professional license?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Thank you for your comment. As a human being, I laud your desire to keep your license current. So long as you have no earnings, I do not see why this would even show up on SSA’s radar. I wouldn’t say that this activity is “risk free” but I think the danger of losing your benefits for keeping your license current is minimal. I can think of another reason to keep your license current — for when you get better!

      David

  68. Carolyn says:

    Sorry David I neglected to tell you that I am collecting SSDI benefits

  69. Scotty says:

    hii i have a question. i been on s.s.d.i since birth and when i turn 18 i had to reapply and i am still on the s.s.d.i from massive lead posion and learning effects and growth. i have like a 500page of paper work that s.s.a had to copy for hours and then i saw a doctor to proov i was disable now i am 26 so i been disable for more then 20years now. i understand the sga and twp and all the comments but my main question is i make 775$ a month and i been loosen my appartments getting tossed on the streets loosen clothes and items from moving and all that drama. i need a part time job asap so i can not be on the streets for the 10th time due to not able to pay bills or people tossing me out because they want more money and i been having major problems for the pass 3years of being over weight high blood presure bla bla basicly unhealthy from just being lazzy. its not my fault. now the SGA 1,000 gross of 2013 is that both my s.s.d.i check with say my part time job of 500 for example or is that JUST MY PART TIME JOB. so basicly im asking if i work now and get 500 a month form work and add my s.s.d.i check together it would be 1200$ a month income. is the SGA LIMIT JUST MY PART TIME JOB OR BOTH PART TIME JOB AND S.S.D.I INCOME TOGETHER. THANKS

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Scotty,

      Thank you for your comment. The SGA threshold, $1,040 in 2013, applies only to your earnings (e.g., money you receive as a result of work activity). Your monthly SSDI checks are NOT earnings.

      David

  70. Carolyn says:

    Dear David

    Thank you so very much for your site, and mostly for your thoughtful and timely answers to all of our questions. As you probably know, there is practically unlimited availability for representation while applying for SSDI benefits, but once approved we are left on our own to navigate a confusing definition for SGA and complicated back to work programs, in which there seem to be many gray areas of law. I certainly appreciate that you volunteer your time to help us out by answering our questions. All the best.

  71. Carolyn says:

    Dear David.

    You have stated in many of your posts that we can do a TWP and then there is an EPE once we are finished with the TWP. You also state that SSA can look at the nature of your work and decide that you are not disabled at any time. Does this mean that if I: A) go back to work at a skill level that they believe proves that I no longer have a disability or B) go back to my previous work, that they can use this as evidence that I am no longer disabled and stop my benefits entirely, cutting me off from the TWP and/or EPE and forcing me to reapply for benefits if I decompensate? My disability is mental illness and I would like to go back to work as a veterinarian but at very reduced level of hours of work with far fewer patients and a much less stressful environment. I am concerned that any work at the doctoral level would trigger a medical review or give the SSA just cause to take away work incentive programs and terminate benefits, but I really want to try. I could very well decompensate however, and would like the safety net of the TWP and EPE so I can return to benefits if necessary.

    Just one more question. I have many opportunities to try reentry into my profession as a volunteer to see if I can take the stress. That would certainly be best for me.
    On many of the attorney websites they say that volunteering 1-2 hours per week at unskilled work (like stuffing envelopes) is OK but any more hours than that, or volunteer work that requires more skill, could affect benefits and to be very careful.. I know that SSA does not require us to report volunteer work but they certainly ask on some of their CDR forms, for you to report your daily activities. But I have also read on their site that they are ok with “unpaid training”. I am confused. Could you please clarify?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Thank you for your comment. With regards to the first question, the skill level is not relevant. If you are working above the income limits, you are working and this will trigger the TWP or EPE. The job could be a Walmart greeter, it doesn’t matter. On the issue of volunteering, the answer, in typical legal fashion, depends. Enough volunteering work could certainly be used as evidence that you can return to work. I do not think a couple hours a week would ever be a problem.

      David

  72. William says:

    I have a general question. In all your years practicing law how often did you see people lose there benefits after a cdr? And why did you choose a career in disability law? Thanks so much.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear William,

      Thank you for your comment. My answer to your first question is: not very often at all, and usually it is as a result of work activity. As far as the second question is concerned, I chose this are of law for two reasons. First, I wanted to be able to actually help people with my law degree. The second reason is that I wanted to be in the courtroom. Although SSA hearings are not in actual courtrooms, I enjoy advocating for my clients in administrative hearings before Federal administrative law judges.

      David

  73. anna millett says:

    hello i am getting married in 6 weeks im on ssi i have been since i was 12 my question is how much can my future husband make before i loose my ssi his hours vary from the time of the year i live in new york and i get 733 a month is ssi please help because im worried about not making it if i loose my ssi

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Anna,

      Thank you for your comment. Your question could be the subject of one or more blog topics as the answer is very complicated. I have not published any articles on this subject but there are a number on the web. The answer also depends upon the state that you live in. As an example, here’s a link that describe the calculation in California.

      David

  74. Kate says:

    Hi David,
    I am redeiving ssdi and have been for 9 years. If i volunteer for 4 hours a week (unpaid), would that cause me to loose benefits? The volunteer work is unlike anything that I’ve done prior to my disability, and I could never receive payment for this because it’s a position for volunteers only, thanks in advance.
    Kate

  75. Kate says:

    Thanks David,
    I have read your reply to Kate as it pertins to keeping her license current with no reference to volunteer (unpaid work). I’m sorry also David as to mention the work was 4 hours a week, it’s in fact 3 hours per week of unpaid volunteer work that no one could or would ever get paid for doing.

  76. Kate says:

    I just read it David, THANKS!

  77. Maek says:

    Hello,

    I worked a part time job for 4 months making 400 a month. When I stopped i informed social security and they sent me a work activity report is this normal? After someone fills out a work activity report does social security than do a medical review? Thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Maek,

      Thank you for your comment. There is nothing odd about being sent the work activity report. As to what actually triggers a medical review, I do not know what goes on behind the scenes at SSA.

      David

  78. Racquel says:

    My husband just applied for benefits, hasn’t been approved yet. If he decides to go back to home and cancel the application will it affect him inthe long run say in 10 years if he trys to apply again..

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Racquel,

      Thank you for your comment. There should be no problem. He can apply again in the future and the fact that he applied and cancelled the application should have no impact.

      David

  79. Debra Delpizzo says:

    Hi David,
    I have been on SSD for about 15 years. I am 53 and considered permanently and totally disabled but what I was approved they penalized me because they said I did not earn enough the last quarter. When I was unable to work. Well, I have been working part time10 hours a week for 6 years now. Am I able to have my SSD check increase to where it should have been to begin with.
    Debbie

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Debra,

      Thank you for your comment. I am not quite sure if I understand your question. Generally speaking, once your benefit amount is determined, the only increases occur because of annual cost of living adjustments. Working more after the onset of disability will not affect your benefit amount – other than potentially eliminating it if you start earning too much money.

      David

  80. Rod says:

    David,

    I have a friend that I have spoken to about investing in his business as a 60/40 partnership. I will not work in this business in any capacity but received 40% profit from the business after expenses…rent…payroll…etc. This would be considered unearned income I would assume…but we both know what assuming means..lol. I don’t believe I would need to worry about SGA, TWP, etc. if I am correct. Thank you in advance for the site and apologize if I have repeated a question you may have answered in previous post.

    Rod

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Rod,

      Thank you for your comment. I believe your analysis is correct. It is important that the income is not reported as earnings to the IRS. And if there is any uncertainty, get something in writing signed by your partner indicating that you are an investor only and are performing no work activity in case SSA ever questions the income.

      David

  81. Mark says:

    Hello, I currently receive SSDI. I get paid once per week at my job. There are multiple months where I will get paid 4 times per month, and multiple months I will get paid 5 times per month. I am trying to figure out how many hours a week I can work without going over my SGA. I was also wondering how they count going over your SGA if you get paid once per week. Do they go by how many paychecks you get in a 5 paycheck month, and then a 4 paycheck month seperately, or do they go by how much you made averaged over the whole year? Is there a calculation they use or do they go each and every month or each and every year or day? I get $7.25 per hour and am looking at 28 to 32 hours per week. The most I can work will help me pay my bills :)

    7.25x28x4=812 7.25x28x5=1015 I am safe with 28 hours per week for the SGA

    7.25x32x4=928 7.25x32x5=1160 Is 32 hours safe for the SGA limit as well,

    or does the 1160 make it go over SGA?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. I think you are playing with fire with earnings that come anywhere near the SGA threshold. Remember from my blog that under SSA rules “[i]f there is evidence, however, showing that an individual may be engaging in SGA, or appears to be in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings, develop fully the facts concerning the comparability of the employee’s work to that of unimpaired individuals, and the worth of the employee’s work . . . .” I am always concerned that someone who consistently works at just below SGA may come under scrutiny. The actual rules on counting income are obtuse but you could take a look at DI 10505.005 which may provide some useful information.

      David

      • Nancy says:

        Dear David,
        I have a rather confusing situation. I am on ssdi due to mental illness, bi-polar etc and I am in therapy have been for many years now. I have moved back home and into Pubic Housing and paying 30% of my rent.
        A friend of mine owns a restaurant and my therapist has told me that getting out of the house and being around people is good for me so I had started doing odd jobs at my friends restaurant and she has giving me money in return. Although I do not work on a regular basis and she pays me the allowed amount of up to $65 a month (not always, due to my illness I have very bad days which are called “episodes”) and gives me food as a form of payment as well..
        Now this is where the tough part comes in…people at my apt complex have seen me at the restaurant and reported me saying I am working and I was called into the office and accused of making lots of money. (which I do not!) I tried telling them I volunteer my time with minimal money and food, I do it for the therapy..I was threatened by the office in my bld by them saying they would call and have me investigated and put in jail for fraud!! I’m not sure what to do about this for SSI told me I do not have to report if I make $65 a month and for my therapist said its good for me..Am I doing something wrong and how can I avoid doing anything illegal?

        Thank you,
        Nancy

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Nancy,

          Thank you for your comment. As far as what may be required to stay in your “Public Housing” I have no idea. Certainly working sporadically making $65 per month should not disqualify you for disability benefits. If you are really worried, you could certainly report the work activity to your local SSA office.

          David

  82. Nancy says:

    I also wanted to add that the bld manager has told me that every month when I pay my rent I must put a paper in the rent slot saying the amount of money I am getting from my friend at the restaurant and they can adjust my rent accordingly and I do not have to report this to anyone but them, is this right and what can I do to protect myself?
    Thanks again!!

  83. hiswife says:

    is there a policy or “loop whole” to going over sga if it was because there was an extra week in that month and you got an extra paycheck because of it??

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. This question came up last week as well if you look above in the comments. What I said last week was “[t]he actual rules on counting income are obtuse but you could take a look at DI 10505.005 which may provide some useful information.”

      David

  84. Daniel says:

    Just a quick question… I have been disable since 1993 and it is permanent… I do have a real estate license and would like to sell our home this year and perhaps next year, sell our friends home for them. Since these are basically ‘administrative’ and not physical, can I do this without repercussions from SS disability? Say perhaps, one transaction per year? Maybe even do a few more spread out over the next 1-30 years?
    Thanks..

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Daniel,

      Thank you for your comment. Selling houses is considered work activity. Any income gained from selling houses (other than your own) would need to be reported to SSA. If the amounts were sufficient, they could affect your trial work period and/or eligibility for benefits. (See above).

      David

      • I am hoping to rent a room or 2 in my house. Would that be counted as earned income since I wouldn’t be doing any work for it? As long as I don’t earn more than the SGA, am I risking losing my benefits?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Briana,

          Income that is not a result of work activity should have no effect on your social security disability benefits.

          David

          • Briana says:

            I make $89 a month from disability and $649 from social security. Would I lose either that income or the medicaid and medicare coverage they give me by renting the rooms? I keep searching the social security site and it is simply confusing me even further.

          • dgalinis says:

            Dear Briana,

            Thank you for your comment. I am not sure I understand your question. Are you on SSI or SSDI (or both)? Are you considering renting someone else a room and receiving income from the rental?

            David

          • Briana says:

            I receive both and yes I am looking to rent out one room in my home to another person and will be receiving income from them. Sorry it took months for me to reply but my health went downhill for a while recently. Life happens.

          • dgalinis says:

            Income received from the rental may affect your entitlement to SSI benefits but should have no impact on your SSD benefits.

            David

      • Daniel says:

        Thank you for the questions. The good news is that one time commissions only count as one month of trial work. Thus so long as you don’t have more than 9 of those months in any five year period (the trial work period recycles every 5 years), you should have no problem. If you do exhaust your trial work months, your benefits will not be immediately cut off. In fact, for three years you will remain eligible for disability benefits in any month that you make less than SGA. This is known as the Extended Period of Eligibility or EPE. Finally, when you turn regular retirement age (65 or 66), your benefits convert from disability to retirement benefits. There is no earnings limitation for regular retirement benefits.

        _______________

        As per a question I just found near the top and your response, this would apply and I could then do a sale or 2 per year but not exceed 9 sales in 5 years, correct? Would I be penalized for each of those months I received a commission and NOT receive disability that month?
        Thanks…!

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Daniel,

          Yes. You would be penalized if you exceeded SGA in any month while you were in the extended period of eligibility (EPE). If you are still in your trial work period (TWP) you would still receive benefits for that month but you would exhaust one of your 9 trial work months.

          David

  85. Theresa/Wisconsin says:

    Dear David,
    I have been disabled since 1998 due to brain surgery and my neck being reconstructed. I am single and cannot live on $978 a month, especially in Wisconsin as it barely covers the heating bills :) I have a double bachelor degree and feel WORTHLESS when I don’t work, not to mention I couldn’t possibly live on less then $1000 per month… so I work part time as a substitute teacher….I work when I feel good enough to but don’t when I can’t the most I can handle is two days (where are you going to find an employer that allows this)….I never make $1000 a month but I’m concerned about my SSDI getting reduced accordingly. Obviously I used up my trial period…I was on a special “pilot program for SSDI” but I believe that ended or will be ending soon. Do you know if I am entitled to my full benefit or will it be reduced????

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Theresa,

      Thank you for your comments. SSDI benefits are not reduced because of work activity. They can be eliminated if your found to be engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) longer than the relevant time periods. So long as you keep your work activity below the SGA threshold you should theoretically continue to receive you disability benefits.

      David

  86. Kevin Keene says:

    I started receiving ssdi in 2011 and am now working part time making less than the SGA every month. My question is, as long as I continue to make less than the SGA, will my benefits be affected.

  87. Jade says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for having this blog, its been informative. I do have some questions, I’m on SSD.

    I gathered from your post but need to be clear, you’re saying one can work BEYOND the 36 months extended work period and still keep benefits as long as we stay under the SGA currently being $1040 a month (the SSA website did not say anything about being able to do any work past the 36mos and keep benefits).
    I know you said SSA reserves the right to open an investigation etc…..so its a risk we take?

    Second question, I know there’s ‘expenses’ that they take into consideration and can be deducted from applicable income. They give examples of ‘expenses incurred due to disability’. What about telephone bills if you’re required to use your own personal phone for all work related contact, or what about car note if you’re required to drive to clients homes for the work you do. Would those qualify as acceptable ‘expenses’ or deductions for that monthly SGA?

    Third question, what are the repercussions for not reporting work to SSA? if it was sporadic and inconsistent in amounts, but there’s 1099 forms. Would they suspend or terminate benefits? and the money owed would they still apply the same rule of any month above SGA they would request back, or would they want all the months paid back.

    Thanks for any help,

    Jade

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jade,

      Thank you for your comment. Question 1: the first month of work above SGA after the EPE period ends will terminate all benefits. Any work activity has some amount of risk. Question 2: I do not believe the expenses you describe would be considered impairment related work expenses. Question 3: you are required to report all work activity. I have never seen anyone lose their benefits because they did not report work activity that was below SGA.

      David

      • Rachel says:

        In my research I believe that SGA for self-employed individuals is the net earnings, not gross earnings. If that is correct, then the business expense examples that Jade mentioned would not be considered Impairment Related Work Expenses but would be normal business expenses deducted from gross earnings to arrive at net earnings. Is this correct, David?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Rachel,

          Always glad to hear your thoughts! For a business (self-employed person) you are indeed correct. You should be able to deduct business expenses AND impairment-related expenses. If you were an employee, only the impairment-related expenses.

          David

        • jadesky says:

          Oh thanks for that clarification Rachel, that helps. It is under the status of self-employed, so being able to deduct those expenses makes a difference.

      • jadesky says:

        Ok, so say benefits get terminated. What are the options then? can we appeal this decision? can my physicians submit reports? and how long of a time frame are we looking at to have benefits reinstated?

        • dgalinis says:

          Thank you for your comment. Yes, you can appeal your benefits if they are terminated. Yes, you can submit additional evidence including physician’s reports. The appeal process may take some time. However, you have the option of electing to continue receiving benefits during your appeal. If you lose, though, you will have to pay back the SSA.

          David

  88. Audrey Klein says:

    My dad receives disability due to health problems and an injury due to being in the army. I’m still under 18 and I want to get a part time job but he says I can’t because he receives money for me being a minor and that if i got a job he would lose the money, is this true?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Audrey,

      Thank you for your comment. If your benefits are based upon your father’s disability, they will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on these benefits because you will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

      David

  89. Danita says:

    I’ve been on SSDI since 2007 due to mental illness and have started doing some volunteer work from home. The work is basically computer work (proofreading, writing book reviews). Will that have an effect on my SSDI?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Danita,

      Thank you for your comment. So long as you have no earnings you should have no immediate issues. But keep in mind that at some point SSA could look at your volunteer work (if significant enough) as an indicator that you would be able to return to work for pay. This is especially true if you start working 40 hours per week on a regular schedule.

      David.

  90. TJ says:

    Hi David, If I am planning on trying to go back to work and will be earning more then the TWP amount, should I inform SSI. Or will they just no and inform me when my TWP is up. If I am to notify them, how should I do that, by phone, letter, ect. And to whom at SSI should this be directed.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear TJ,

      Thank you for your comment. When receiving disability benefits, SSA requires that you notify them of any change in your work activity. SSA indicates that you:

      “can report changes in your work activity by phone, fax, mail, or in person. Call our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit your local SSA office.”

      David

      • TJ says:

        Thanks, David. Do you think reporting this change of attempting to work, will trigger a interview or medical testing. And if I notify them by mail should I explain what type of work it is, and amount of hours per week. Thanks, TJ

  91. Crash says:

    Mr. Galinis,

    Thank you for providing the most up-to-date and concise, easy-to-understand info about TWP, EPE, and SGA in this blog and in your answers in this “reply” section.

    It is already July 24th, 2013 and the SSA itself has not updated its site (http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/317/~/working-and-receiving-social-security-disability-benefits) regarding monthly income limits…(I copied and pasted what it still says):

    “After your nine-month trial work period, we still provide a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free. During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed these limits:
    ·$1,690 for blind individuals; or
    ·$1,010 a month if you are not blind.”

    I’ve been on SSDI for about 14 years now, and was even on an active State Rehabilitation Council for 8 of those years with experts and fellow benefit recipients at my disposal…and I still feel lost.

    Thank you so much for helping to give people a place to start in the navigation of this strange landscape.

  92. Mark says:

    Hello, i want to do work study in my college ie working in the school. I can get 700 for the semester sep-dec. my question is I don’t get paid that until the end of the semester. Would it be best to fill out a work activity report and explain that? Since its way below sga and ill only be working 3 hours a week I don’t think I have to worry. Thanks

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. It doesn’t appear as though you have anything to worry about but I would report that activity to SSA and explain the nature of the work.

      David

  93. axal says:

    I was on Chip or Chips before the age of 18 for mental disability and when I turned 18 I then was put on SS income and SS insurance and im now 28 years old and My SS income is 1,035 a month, My disability is Bipolar Disorder and ive been hospitalized 4 times within 6 years and my Most important question to you is, Can I work for alittle extra to my income? or is it some sort of TRICK to see if im capable of working without SS Check.. I would prefer to keep my SS check AND work… but everything I read from the Social security websites is that after 9 months I lose all benefits and my status is put to “No longer disabled” is this true? because according to my Doctor and Therapist, my mental state is permanent and I will always be mentally disabled…

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Axal,

      Thank you for your comment. I believe my posts contains my collected wisdom on this subject. The rules allow for some work activity but there is some risk involved.

      David

  94. Michelle says:

    I have written a book that I would like to self publish for Kindle on Amazon. How would this affect my SSDI for RA since it is probably a one time thing and I cannot predict the income? I mainly used voice recognition software with manual corrections.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Michelle,

      Billie had a similar question and I responded:

      Thank you for your comment. First, if you publish a book and receive income for the effort, it will be considered earnings as you have certainly “worked” for that income. Second, recall from my post above that earnings above the TWP or SGA threshold amounts will not automatically terminate your benefits. Both the trial work period and the extended period of eligibility provide for some amount of continuing benefits even while working. Third, the earnings will be counted in the month that you receive them. If the monthly payments are above the TWP threshhold, you would probably rather have your payments in a lump sum so that it only counts as one month of your trial work period. If the payments are spread out over time, you might exhaust more months of your trial work period. Finally, if you are wildly successful all this won’t matter so start writing!

      David

      • Alice says:

        Hi, I have a question. I am on SSDI, I became disabled at 21 due to having agoraphobia, Depression, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. I also have back issues and my hip isn’t good. To make a long story short, I can’t work.

        I do have several hobbies that I do when I’m awake and when I feel like it. I give my creations away and I have a sold a couple of things on Ebay. I made about 9 dollars for the total year back in 2010 and I did report that to the SSA and they kind of laughed at me. But I was worried.

        I have found a website where you can sell your creations and there’s Ebay. The crafts are just a hobby and most of the time, I make them as gifts and I keep some of them. But if I were to sell something say each month and the amount was under the SGA amount, would selling something that I had made from a hobby count as SGA. Since the income is not guaranteed and I only make things and post them when I feel like it, which isn’t too often.

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Alice,

          Thank you for your comment. The short answer is: yes. Money you receive for things that you make is income as a result of work activity and will count against the SGA thresholds.

          David

          P.S. I recently discovered a regulation that indicates that if the activity was only a hobby and that you never intended to earn income – then it will not count as SGA. At what point your activity goes from being a “hobby” to self employment is unclear to me.

      • Kim says:

        Dave I have applied for disability it has not been approved yet. I need to get enfusions done and I can’t pay them. I want to work pt to pay for md expenses making only 300 a month. Will I be denied for working pt?

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Kim,

          Thank you for your comment. Technically that is not SGA, thus you should not be denied on that basis. Theoretically, it still could be used as evidence that you are able to work. My advice is that you take care of your health first and foremost. If SSA denies based on that work activity, I would gladly take that argument up on appeal.

          David

  95. Greg says:

    i’ve been collecting ssdi benefits for about 3 years now. i just turned 50 this year and was wondering if i would be elegible to collect an early retirement pension from my former employee without getting penalized because of the fact that i am disabled and if so would that affect my ssdi benefit amount

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Greg,

      Thank you for your comment. Your employment pension should have no affect (assuming its not a federal pension) on your SSDI benefits. Your eligibility for your pension, however, is outside of my area of practice.

      David

  96. pam says:

    how do sick pay, vacation pay, awards and bonuses affect countable income?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Pam,

      Thank you for your comment. I assume your question is whether they are counted for SGA threshold purposes. Generally, the rule is that it counts for SGA purposes if you engaged in work activity for the income. Thus, sick and vacation pay should not be counted as income for SGA purposes. However, awards and bonuses are directly tied to work effort and probably would be counted against the SGA threshold.

      David

      • pam says:

        Thanks so much for the reply! If awards or bonuses are for say a 6month period, would the amount be spread out, or counted in the month’s income in which the amount was received?

        • dgalinis says:

          SSA rules indicate that they are to spread the bonuses or awards out over time if they are able to discern a period of time for which they apply.

          • pam says:

            I really appreciate what you are doing here. To give freely of your time to help us sort out our lives is generous beyond words! THANK YOU!!

  97. tweetssun says:

    I see you answered a similar question a couple of days ago to Mark but he mentioned working three hours a week. I became disabled in 2009 after the birth of my son with an extreme case of Postpartum Depression. I was starting to feel a little better and went back to school on a ticket to work in the fall of 2011. I just got my AA with honors this May and will continue on to get my BS in Education. I have been asked several times to tutor other students and was just approached by the peer tutoring department for an interview. It pays $8/hour and I can work 5-25/hours a week. I am on SSDI and my son also receives benefits because of my disability. I may only do it for a semester, maybe longer depending on requirements for my degree.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, it is always difficult to be definitive because of the language I quote in my post which allows SSA to investigate any work activity to determine if the person is still disabled. The work activity you describe is clearly not SGA. However, given that you are feeling a little better and now have more education, there may be some question as to your continuing disability.

      David

  98. China says:

    If I am collecting disability can I go to school? I am young don’t want to be on this the rest of my life.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear China,

      Thank you for your comment. My answer as a human being is absolutely yes. As a lawyer I would point out that although there is no rule against receiving benefits and going to school, SSA could theoretically look at full time school as evidence that you may be able to work. I personally would not let that dissuade you.

      David

      • tweetssun says:

        Look into the Ticket to Work. That is what I am on right now. I can tell you that they will not do a medical review while you ate making progress getting your degree. I had to go through a psych evaluation and iq testing to see if I would be able to handle it. I just finished my AA and I am able to stay on the ticket until I get my bachelors. This info is available here: http://www.ssa.gov/work/overview.html

  99. JJ says:

    Hi David!

    I want to start off by saying that this blog is really awesome and incredibly informative. I have a simple question (at least I think) that I haven’t found covered here. My husband has casually sold stuff on Ebay for the past few years and has decided he wants to turn it into an actual business to generate more income for us since I became disabled. Going from two incomes to just one for months, and now finally one income with disability has been an enormous financial strain (which I”m sure is the case for most of us!!) Anyway, he would like to have my name on the business and the checking account in addition to his. Our names have been held jointly on everything (houses, cars, etc), long before we were even married and he doesn’t want this to be any different. He also wants be to be able to speak to someone (bank, Ebay, etc.) about it in the event a situation would occur where he wasn’t readily available. Otherwise, I won’t be assisting him with anything.

    So long story short, would having my name on his business / checking account impact my SSDI?

    Thank you for your time,
    J

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear JJ,

      Thank you for your comment. I would not put your name on the business or accounts. While you may be able to prove to SSA that you are not working for that income, why even raise the issue?

      David

      • Jan S. says:

        To JJ: David is right. Please do not put your name on the business. My husband owns a transmission shop. Back in the late 80′s there was a tax benefit that stated that if a spouse (or family) worked for an owner, then the FICA did not have to be paid or covered for the spouse. We put my husband’s business in my name, so we could pay my husband a good salary (bigger than if we paid me). After this, I was approved for a disability. Soon after this, I received a letter from Disability, asking what in the world I thought I was doing receiving disability when I owned and ran a business. Obviously I wasn’t running the business, but what a shock. I called Social Security right away. I explained the situation, and the gal said to write a letter right away to explain in writing – - and get my name off the business IMMEDIATELY. Everything turned out okay, but never again will we put my name on my husbands’ business.

  100. Peter Nolan says:

    I went on disability after having colon cancer in 2008. After the resection surgery, I went back to work and a week later, the surgery fell apart. Radiation therapy had weakened tissues in the area of the surgery resulting in a series of extensive surgeries to deal with the hernias. I have pain now after standing a long time, along with recurring bowel blockages (1 surgery, 2 hospital stays) caused by scar tissue formation. After learning to cope with and manage my condition to a degree, I looked into working part-time. I went to my local SS office and learned I could make $720 and figured I could go to back to my and use my skills in a limited way to earn enough to get by. I’ve been hospitalized twice while working, but I’m still there. Last fall I took a course in 3d Mechanical drafting and I figure if I work at it, I may be able to get back full time using these new skills from home. My problem is I did this on my own and I thought I could just keep going if I didn’t go over $720 a month. I’m not sure if I’m going to get full time employment, but I know if I work this part-time job, I’ll have a much better chance turning it into a full-time job. Any suggestions on what to do next? I’m afraid that because of not going thru the TWP, I may have messed up. I really want to go back to work, but I can’t do the full-time unless I can do half at a PC. The opportunity only exists if I can at least keep my part-time shop work to use and refine my new skills. As of right now, I’m not under review, but after reading your replies above, I’m concerned about what I need to do right away to keep my benefits while I acquire the skills I need for a different position.Being 60, getting employment will be tough even WITH skills and NO health issues, but I need guidance to protect myself.
    Thanks, Pete

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Pete,

      Thank you for your comment. Remember from my post that even after the TWP is used up, you still have the Extended Period of Entitlement for 36 months. That means that for each month you make less than SGA (for those three years) you will still receive your disability benefit. Also, once you reach your regular retirement age (probably 66 for you), your earnings have no bearing on your disability (now retirement) check. Thus, I think you should definitely consider moving forward with your efforts.

      David

  101. Mike says:

    I get SSDI for legally blindness in Wasington state. There’s a possibility that I may do a personal appearance in Canada for a substantial amount, but would be only once. How would I deal with this with SS?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Mike,

      Thanks for the comment. First, I recommend that you report the earnings, as SSA requires, once you receive them. Second, I believe this would be considered income for work activity and would count against TWP/SGA. If you only receive the check once, I believe it will only count as ONE month of TWP and SGA.

      David

  102. Doug W. says:

    Hi ….. had a heart attack ‘Widow Maker’ ….. Im 64 and on my Social Security Retirement Benefits. Dr. says exercise is good but I cant work more than 3hrs a day….cause of the recovery and (5) meds also! Get dizzy/tired..after that. Im making about $800 mo. tops!….. and below average Social Security retirement,handyman
    work,Painting,etc. Can I apply for disability benefits? I cant make it on my
    income. and my savings are running out! Is it better to have a SSI Disability Lawyer file for me?

  103. Tiari says:

    I have a question I’m 17 and receive disability and I want to work a part can I ?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Tiari,

      Thank you for your comment. If the benefits are based on your own disability, then the rules I mentioned above should also apply to you. If they are based on one of your parent’s disability then see my response to Audrey below:

      “If your benefits are based upon your father’s disability, they will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on these benefits because you will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).”

      David

  104. Ari Sotnick says:

    Hello David,
    I have been Disabled since I was 21 with bi polar Disorder, have had about 5 episodes and spent a lot of time in my life unproductive and severely depressed at home sometime a year, 5 months, 1 and a half year etc… at a time, this past time when I was hospitalized It was severe as well and I am only getting better now after a year and a half I am 31 right now. I have been on Medicaid / Medicare for a while since I was about 23 or so, and this last time was the first time I went on disability, I am feeling much better about myself and have enough experience to keep going for good this time and not make any mistakes, my disability does come with drawback of motivation at times as well as fatigue from mandatory medications I take that without would land me in the hospital for sure. I am slowly beginning to work and will be reporting my income to SDI. for example if I start making $1,200 on my 3rd month, I imagine that would start the trial work period and if the next month goes back down to $600 for example that month may not count as the 9 months do not have to be consecutive as I read it. But my main concern is for the first 9 months even If I make over $750 trigger for 9 months I would still get the Disability payment? and then a safety net for 3 years where I will still receive the disability if I do not go over the $750 mark?

    My other part question is about Medicare / Medicaid. I have head these insurance plans since I was about 23 and the Disability was added on a couple of years ago. My question is after the 9 months and 3 years safety will my medicare and medicaid stop? or when would it stop? I am not too knowledgable about this matter, but it is a concern for me. I have read something about the “NJ Workability Act” the main focus of the article to me was the fact that you can work part time, full time, self employed have to be permanently disabled and make no more than about $58,000 per year. I have never heard of this kind of information but it would be nice if it was true. I consider myself permanently disabled, because my condition forces me to go over obstacles in everyday life and has effected me and still does effect me on a daily basis, extreme fatigue and not completely 100% productive, am I considered permanently disabled, will my doctor or can my doctor deem me permanently disabled? I believe I am because without my medication I would be non-functioning and when I do take my medications I am not 100% stable and have to struggle with myself throughout the day. The Workability NJ act was found on a government website (http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/projects/discoverability/)

    NJ WorkAbility
    Eligibility Guidelines…
    Be between the ages of 16 and 64
    Work part time, full time or be self-employed and have proof of employment
    Have a permanent disability determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), or the Disability Review Team at the Division of Medical Assistance & Health Services (DMAHS)
    Have an earned income no more than $58, 236 per year for eligible

    Thank you David

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Ari,

      Thank you for your comment. Until you have exhausted your 9 months of the Trial Work Period, you will continue to receive your disability benefit check regardless of the amount you earn that month. Once you are in the 36 month Extended Entitlement Period, you will continue to receive your disability check for each month that you make less than SGA ($1,040 in 2013). After the 36 months you will continue to receive your checks (and insurance) until the first month that you work over the SGA threshhold. At that point your disability benefits will cease and you would need to file for expedited reinstatement to get them restarted.

      With regards to Medicare, you would lose your coverage if your disability benefits were terminated. I am sorry but I cannot comment on the laws in the state of New Jersey as I am not licensed to practice in New Jersey.

      David

      • Ari Sotnick says:

        Thank you for the information, however with regards to Medicare, you said I would lose my Medicare coverage if my disability was terminated. I had Medicare and Medicaid from around 2002, I was just recently put on SSDI late 2011, and am only now trying to go back to work. Let’s say we are talking about my situation generally and not just in NJ, why would my Medicare and Medicaid coverage end if my SSDI was to end? Main reason why I am asking is because I received SSDI separately in 2011 and Medicare back around 2002.

        Thanks again

        • dgalinis says:

          Dear Ari,

          My apologies. I had been on vacation and tried to reply to over 20 comments this afternoon. As a result, I mispoke about the termination of Medicare benefits. As a result of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act of 1999 (which became effective 10/1/00) Medicare coverage continues for 93 months if your benefits are terminated for work activity but you still have the disabling impairment. This fact was pointed out to me by Rachel who often provides valuable insight to my comments and she did so again, see below.

          I do not know how you obtained Medicare coverage before you became entitled to SSDI. Medicare is for people who are entitled to SSDI or people who are over 65. But then again, my practice involves SSDI and SSI benefits and only tangentially Medicare.

          David

          • Ari Sotnick says:

            Thank you David, it is much appreciated that people like you help out with our concerns at all! a side note to your response —> “Medicare coverage continues for 93 months if your benefits are terminated for work activity but you still have the disabling impairment” (Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act of 1999 ) Do you or maybe Rachel know about the NJ Workability Program? –>
            http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/projects/discoverability/

            Thank you again, I will wait patiently.

      • Rachel says:

        You would still be eligible for Medicare for up to 93 months after returning to work if you still have a medical disability but are engaging in substantial gainful activity. Medicare can be purchased just like any other insurance after the 93 month period and would have to be paid as usual for the 93 month period. http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/mppt/overview.htm

        • Ari Sotnick says:

          Thank you Rachel, I am a little bit confused about one part of your answer, and hopefully you can clarify it for me. The first part I completely understand –> (“You would still be eligible for Medicare for up to 93 months after returning to work”) ||| but then you went on to say –> (“and would have to be paid as usual for the 93 month period”.) what I got from that is for at least 93 months I would be eligible for Medicare, but I would have to pay for the Medicare program, meaning I would have to buy it, or pay the premium? in the middle of your answer you said –> (“Medicare can be purchased just like any other insurance after the 93 month period”) because of that remark I am assuming that I will have to pay a premium or pay for Medicare after the 93 Month period, or are you saying that I will have to pay it for the beginning 93 month period as well?

          Also are you familiar with (NJ Workability?)

          http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/projects/discoverability/

          Thank you very much

          • Rachel Fletcher says:

            Hi Ari, I agree; David is providing a great service by sharing his knowledge and addressing specific questions. I’ve learned quite a bit from his blog and refer people to it all the time!

            My understanding of the Medicare program with SSDI is that it is paid for with a deduction from your benefits before they are paid to you. For instance, my Medicare premium is deducted from my monthly benefit before it is deposited into my account. Lower income individuals may be eligible for their state to pay their premium. If you qualify for that assistance you may not have to pay the premium for the 93 month period, but most individuals would have to pay for it beginning the 93 month period.

            I am not familiar with the NJ Workability program. I know that most states define permanent disability as resulting from a work-related injury or illness from which a person cannot recover, such as permanent loss of limb.

        • Ari Sotnick says:

          Thx for the reply again! couple of concerns regarding your reply, how much would a premium medicare or medicaid coverage cost? and as far as the disability, you said –> “most states define permanent disability as resulting from a work-related injury (((or illness from which a person cannot recover))), such as permanent loss of limb.” <–

          what I am trying to figure out is regarding my illness, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, and many people who don't know the severity of the disorder, it is not an acute illness and has been effecting my lifestyle for about a decade. If bipolar disorder or schizophrenia for example is not considered an illness you can't recover for, then I would be surprised.

          thank you, hopefully you will be able to have some insight.

          • Rachel Fletcher says:

            For the 93 month work period the beneficiary would not have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A (hospital) insurance. The premium for Medicare Part B insurance for 2013 is $104.90 per month. After the 93 month work period the beneficiary would have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B insurance. The premium for Medicare Part A insurance for 2013 is $243 per month if 30 quarters of coverage have been earned, and the premium for Medicare Part B insurance for 2013 is $104.90 per month.

            Personally, I agree that Bipolar Disorder is a chronic, permanent illness that most people do not ever recover from. Congratulations for your success in dealing with it so far. I believe that for the permanent disability definition, in terms of eligibility, that only injuries or illnesses from which no recovery is EVER possible are considered as such. No one would ever be able to recover from the loss of a limb, even though they could use a prosthetic to assist with tasks that required that limb. Unfortunately, Bipolar Disorder appears to fall into the same category as diabetes or high blood pressure, both of which are usually chronic conditions that can be controlled with treatment, but not cured. I hope I am wrong about this for your sake. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to contact the NJ Workability program and inquire about their classification of such conditions.

          • Ari Sotnick says:

            Thank you very much, very insightful!

  105. Frank says:

    Ok I’m working fulltime now for 8 months and collect ssdi I know it will end I’m making 1300 a week do I have too claim it on my w2 and how will I be taxed ,, ? Will I have too pay all that back ? Also I minor children do I have too claim there’s also ?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Frank,

      Thank you for your comment. I am not a tax lawyer. I do know that both SSDI benefits and wages are taxable – so you should consult with your CPA. Once you have exhausted the 9 month trial work period, your disability benefits stop. You do not have to pay back the benefits you received during the trial work period.

      David

    • Rachel Fletcher says:

      Hi Frank, I prepare income taxes for clients. At the end of the year you will receive a W2 from your employer for wages earned and an SSA-1099 for SSDI benefits received. As David said, you don’t have to pay back any SSDI that you received during the trial work period, but you will have to claim the wages and the SSDI both as income. If you have been working full time for 8 months then most likely your SSDI will be taxed at the maximum allowable rate, which is 85%, meaning that you will be liable for income taxes only on 85% of the SSDI received. You will also be liable for income taxes on your entire wage amount. You do not have to claim your children’s SSDI payments as income.

  106. toya says:

    This was real Good advice thanks.

  107. david says:

    iv been getting ssi for 20 years now an today they have me under investigation for fraud because I sold a truck I bn working on for almost 4 years it brought 26.000 .plus I never told m bout any other income iv made .? is what will or can they due to me for not reporting my income .in turn iv made few bucks but the junk I haul is not mine but other people hv me to haul it .once in the scrap yard the one who brings it in is who they pay by check .iv told ssa tht all the money wasn’t mine just because check was n my name .do I report wht iv made over the last 6 months or what do I need to do ?? I don’t want to b charged for ssi fraud. can I still report my income or is it to late???

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your comment. I do not handle criminal matters. If there is an investigation for fraud, I would encourage you to hire an attorney who practices criminal law for guidance.

      David

  108. BIG D says:

    ok I tried to start a small business of towing cars well it did not pan out because bills was more than I was making like insurance tags fuel up keep on the wrecker n so on but I have no tow truck now it been sold due I need to report what I tried to do or do I report that I didn’t make any money that I lost money . yea I put money in my checking accout from towing but my expences were more then I made I made bout 8000 last year n spent 9 0r more .

    • BIG D says:

      but I have been on ssi for 20+ years .just wanted to try and make something for my boys to surive on later on down the road

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Big D,

      Thank you for your comment. I am not sure if there was a question or not. My blog contains most of my advice on the subject of working while receiving Social Security disability benefits.

      David

  109. felicia says:

    Hi, I have a major question. My husband just started his first job since parting from the military. He was medically retired and is 28 yrs old. But because he was classified as being not capable of completely his duty due to a medical condition, he was able to get social security while drawing a check from the military completely legal. Well this new job is something to just get us by and help us save up money before we move back home we are still living where he was stationed. He’s also finishing getting a degree. Well anyways he did the proper paperwork thru his new job stating he receive SS. Well they are not listening to him he plainly told them he is not able to work 40 hrs a wk and they are still giving him 40hrs a wk or one or two hrs less he needs more like 30-33 at the most and was hired in a part time position. We are very grateful for the job and under other circumstances would love this position. But if they decide to let him go because of him telling them he can’t work because of his disability and SS. Would that be considered discrimination and what should we do we are so beside ourselves and no clue what to do. He has MS so i mean its a disability that will never go away but if we lost it due to him able to work how easy could he get it back since its that type of disability? Thank you!!

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Felicia,

      Thank you for your comment. I do not handle employment discrimination matters. Moreover, there are state as well as federal issues involved so it is prudent to get advice from an attorney in your state. With regards to reinstating his disability benefits, please refer to the blog post above which discusses your Trial Work Period, Extended Period of Eligibility and filing for Expedited Reinstatement should his benefits be terminated. Also take a look at the comments to the blog which go into these issues in greater depth.

      David

  110. Dani says:

    I have been receiving SSDI since 2007 for Bipolar Disorder II and General Anxiety Disorder and have suffered insomniac for years which the doctors have still not been able to get under control and do to the fatigue and inability to concentrate I take a stimulant which works most of the time. I’ve also suffered episodes of conversion disorder. I take about 8 medications to keep me stable but still have episodes of depression. After a car accident I had a MRI and CT scan they found a 7 mm lesion indicating that I had had a stroke at some point. I worked in a very toxic work environment for many years and during that time my father committed suicide and when I did finally leave I went to a company that was even more toxic and it was at this time that I had an emotional breakdown and was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2005 and tried to work while getting it under control but because of the environment and from the abuse I suffered from the previous 14 years it was too much and I would have landed in the hospital. Though I’m doing well on my medications I still have days where I don’t want to get out of bed and my doctor and I have talked at great lengths about my returning to work but we both came to the conclusion that mentally I can’t. Bipolar is a lifelong illness and like diabetes and high blood pressure it is controlled by medication as mentioned in a previous comment but what those who don’t suffer from it understand is that what you see on the outside is far different from what we are battling on the inside. It’s a struggle every minute, every second of everyday. Somedays we win and somedays we lose. Yes we all want to be productive and we want to make a living but Bipolar is unpredictable and is an uphill battle. Why is it that it isn’t recognized as a “permanent” disability? I’m coming up on a review and I’m terrified.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Dani,

      Thank you for your comment. The good news is that it is recognized as a serious impairment and can justify the finding of disability before the Social Security Administration. (See Affective Disorder 12.04(A)(3)). The bad news, as you are probably well aware, it that it is very difficult to convince anyone (including Judges) of the severity and nature of the problem. I am currently on appeal number two for someone with bipolar disorder. The Judges keep focusing on my client’s mental ability and not on the severe reduction in productivity that occurs as a result of bipolar disorder. It’s the difficulty maintaining any sort of regular and predictable schedule that is the most disabling feature of the disorder.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      David

  111. tia says:

    my sons dad receive ssi and ssd, will he be able to receive my sons ssi or ssd benefits?

  112. William Cruz says:

    Dear David;if u collect ssdi and start working part time, making less than you did before being disabled and never engage in sga, making under 1040 for 2013. how long can you continue to do this without affecting your ssdi?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear William,

      Thank you for your comment. If you make less than SGA, theoretically, there should be no impact on your SSDI. But remember from my post that

      “[i]f there is evidence, however, showing that an individual may be engaging in SGA, or appears to be in a position to defer compensation, or by special arrangement is able to suppress earnings, develop fully the facts concerning the comparability of the employee’s work to that of unimpaired individuals, and the worth of the employee’s work . . . .”

      David

  113. Hello, I have a question. I recive SSI because in 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t work. I was in remission 2012 and now in 2013 I’ve been looking for a job but its hard because I had to get surgery and get my tumor and a few ribs removed in my chest so I’m limited. Social security is going over my case now to see if I am still considered disabled to them. If they do deny my case, what happens?? Do I get cut off right away?? I have bills to pay.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Emmy,

      Thank you for your comment. The discussion of TWP and EPE from the post above are for situations where the medical impairment/disability continues but there has been work activity. If SSA determines that you have had a medical improvement such that you are not disabled, the TWP, EPE, etc. do not apply. Your benefits would end immediately unless you appealed the determination and opted to have your benefits continue during your appeal. Note that if you lost the appeal, SSA would require payback of the benefits paid since the decision terminating your benefits due to medical improvement.

      David

  114. Shelly Dorsey says:

    I have been on SSDI since 1995 and told I exhausted trial work period and extended time back in 2000. I have been working part time for 1 1/2 years now. I have been so afraid to try to go full-time in case I can not do it. I read in an above response (the trial work period recycles every 5 years). Can you explain more about that or tell me where I can get the full details please.
    Thanks, Shelly

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Shelly,

      Thank you for your comment. If you have exhausted you trial work period, it does not “recycle.” It is a “rolling” period which means that if you had 4 TWP months back in 2000, they would not be considered against you now. But once you have used up your 9 months – the trial work period is over. Most likely you are still receiving benefits because you have not had a month of SGA earnings since the EPE period expired. (See the referenced post above). Your benefits will continue until the first month of SGA level earnings, then stop. At that point, you would need to reapply for benefits.

      David

  115. Donna says:

    I have been on private disability and ssdi for over 5 years. During that time I started making doll clothes as a hobby and donating them at Christmas. Friends are suggesting that I try to sell some of the outfits on eBay or at craft shows to pay for the materials I buy. I would get between $25 and $50 for an outfit, and I could probably sell about 50 a year because it takes me a long time to make an outfit.

    One friend refinishes wood furniture and sells it at craft shows. Her husband is an attorney. He told her that she does not need to report an income from a hobby. However, she is not on disability.

    I am 64 years old and cannot afford to lose my disability because I cannot go back to work. If I decided to try to sell some of my items, would I need to report my sales (profit would be about 50% for each sale)? Would I lose some of my disability?

    Regards,
    Donna

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Donna,

      Thank you for your comment. As to how income from a “hobby” affects your private disability I do not know. With regards to how it affects SSA, your friend’s husband is correct that money from a “hobby” is not income from work activity and is thus not required to be reported. At what point your “hobby” turns into “self employment” is unclear. Also remember that once you reach your regular retirement age, there are no restrictions on your earnings.

      David

  116. John Robinson says:

    Hello,

    I am on permanent disability and receive payment from social security. That amount is deducted each month from my private disability policy payments.

    Even though I am not working, and have not for the last 4 years, my previous employer left me on the books on a medical “leave of absence.” This allows me to retain my families insurance by paying the premiums. It has also let me hold on to, and sell, my stock options.

    My question surrounds the stock options. Each year, for the last four, we have exercised some to pay large medical bills, property taxes, etc. Probably amounts to about $7,000-$10,000 per year. We paid taxes and reported income on all, but I’m wondering what impact that will have on my benefits. Social Security just sent us an information request asking us to explain our income for the last 3+ years. My employer reported our insurance discount as income, as well as the stock option sales, and our disability insurance company reported their payments as income. Should we worry?

    Thanks,
    John

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear John,

      Thank you for your comment. I do not think you have any reason to worry as none of that “income” was a result of work activity. I would explain the “income” to SSA just like you explained in your comment and you should have no problems.

      David

  117. Yeps says:

    Hi, I have a form of Autism and receive disability benefits. I also work part-time and am in my last month of EPE so I can lose my benefits permanently anytime I earn over $1040. The problem is, my job sometimes pays us for six weeks in one month, so basically we receive an extra paycheck even though there are only four weeks in one month. I am concerned that I will lose my benefits because of this. Are there any provisions for situations such as these? It is all very confusing. Also, I have what I believe are IRWE that are about $50 a month. I have other costs associated with my Autism sensory issues but those are difficult to prove as they vary from one Autistic individual to the other. I was wondering how long it would take for social security to add this IRWE to my record and how to go about doing so?

    Thank you.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. If possible, I would talk to your employer to see if they can change the way that they pay you so that it is never an issue. If your employer refuses, SSA rules do require them to consider the earnings per month attributed to work activity in that month. If money is received in a different month, it should be attributed to the month in which it was actually earned. With regards to IRWE, contact your local office and request a “Work Activity Report.” In that form, you can report your IRWE.

      David

    • Janine says:

      I have used up my twp but not th extended, got the letter about termination of benefits. What happens now? and laid off the job.

      • dgalinis says:

        Dear Janine,

        Thank you for your comment. The extended period of entitlement will continue for 36 months. Any month you earn less than SGA you will receive your benefit check for that month. You will need to provide wage information to SSA on a regular basis.

        David

  118. Martin says:

    My question is dealing with doing “drug research studies” earning $2000 to $5,000 a month for 6 of the 12 months each year ($12,000 to $30,000 a year) It is not work it is taking experimental drugs and it is never a sure thing to make this money. I do get a 1099 for anything over $600 per year.

    Since this is not really employment; however, is taxable income by the IRS. Will this effect my collecting SSDI since it is obviously more then the 9 months of TWP allowed for working (again I do not believe this to be work you just lay in bed and take medicine and give blood). Also I know it will be more then the SGA for every other month anyway.

    FYI: I do not like to do these drug research, but I have to pay the bills.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Martin,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that this is not work activity and should not affect your entitlement to SSDI benefits. I would request a “Work Acitivty Report” from your local SSA office. On Question 1 you would indicate that you received income but did not work. On Question 2 you would explain down at the bottom under “Other.”

      David

  119. Jessica andrews says:

    Jesica andrews can you work while on ssi and how many hours can you work

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Jessica,

      Dear Jessica,

      Thank you for your comment. The SGA rules discussed above are relevant with regards to SSDI benefits. SGA is not relevant to the continuation of your SSI benefits. If you are working and receiving SSI benefits, SSA disregards the first $65 you earn in a month; or as much as $85, if you do not have any other income. If you earn more than $65 (or $85, if applicable), SSA reduces your SSI benefit $1 for every $2 you earn in that month.

      David

  120. arifee mohammad says:

    I was SSDI for 6 years and then I return to work for a company to help translating for US ARMY in afghanistan but few days ago i got hurt my back in the same place that i got hurt first time and was accepted by SSDI and i cant work now can i go back to SSDI or i have to apply again for it?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. If your benefits ended because of work activity, you have 5 years from the date your benefits ended to file for expedited reinstatement. Based on the information you provided, I would call SSA regarding applying for “expedited reinstatement.”

      David

  121. arifee mohammad says:

    by the way i worked since november 2009 tilljune 2013

  122. Sparkel says:

    Hello I am recieving ssdi benefits and was wondering if I make like $200 more then the $1040 would they take away my benefits completely or would they just lower the payments to me? I have not been able to find any information on this.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Sparkel,

      Thank you for your comment. For SSDI benefits, if you make more than the SGA level for any month after expiration of your trial work period you will receive no payment for that month. There are not partial reductions. After the Extended Period of Entitlement (EPE) any month of SGA level work would terminate benefits completely.

      David

  123. Edward Fair says:

    David,

    Great site and great advice, my question is this. I started getting Disability in April this year. my wife has received disability since 2009. Her disability is $425 since mine is $1262. I am 54. I have the opportunity to work from home in a legit computer service representative job at $8 an hour. The problem is it is a self employed contractor. I can work as many hours I want and set my own time and still care for my wife(shes a double amputee, major stroke and loosing her memory). This is a few questions. 1. I worked in customer service for the last 9 years of work, the judge ruled me disabled sine 2009. Since this is the same type of job will this cause me to loose my benefits before the 3 year 9 month threshold? 2. If i keep it under the $750 a month does it even count toward the trail or 3 year threshold? 3. would i be better off going through the education programs the offer to get a better paying job when i am done? Will the social security taxes being paid in will this increase my disability checks or only affect my retirement benefits? Last but not least I was under the impression i cannot get full retirement benefits until 70 is this true? thanks,

    Edward

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Edward,

      Thank you for your comments. Question 1 — refer to my post. Because you are self employed, you probably are in a position to defer compensation or suppress earnings. As to whether SSA will ever investigate this, I have no idea. Question 2 — if you earnings are always below the TWP monthly threshold, it will not count against either your TWP or EPE. Question 3 — it’s impossible for me to answer whether you should obtain more education. Question 4 — your earnings while you are receiving disability benefits will not be factored into your benefit amount. Question 5 — the SSDI benefits you are receiving now will be your retirement benefits once you reach your full retirement age (between 65 and 67) unless you stop receiving disability benefits before then. In other words, the amount you receive now is it (except for future COLA increases). With regards to my answers to questions 4 and 5 – I encourage any of my contributors to respond if they disagree.

      David

  124. Marlo says:

    I have been disabled due to an incurable cancer I have to work to pay bills that my SSI doesn’t. Up until two years ago my son and I were living in a house in such bad shape we had no recourse but to find a better house. I have a $61,000.00 mortgage I’m paying so that we no longer need to fear freezing to death every winter. I was told that since I’m working making $540.00 per month extra it’s only so I can afford our water, electric, and food but I may still lose my benefits. I haven’t been married for 11 years and my little amount isn’t even close to being enough. All the money I receive literally is just to pay the bills nothing left over for anything. We barely have enough so when I was told by my bank they would help when the US government wouldn’t I took the offer and so now the government thinks I’m working to cause grief I’m not and It’s not fair NO ONE helped us find anything but the bank did so if the government thinks they’re infallible they’re not thousands of people make far more than I do and I have Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Advanced glaucoma in both of my eyes Type II Diabetes Rheumatoid Arthritis and to the point there are a lot of foods I can’t eat due to my stomach problems and an impacted immune system I can’t get sick without it turning into something far worse and need pills just to sleep due to anxiety. The US government isn’t helping my problems they’re exacerbating everything. Prior to my working now for 6 years I couldn’t stand to even try to work due to the problems I have but now I am. If I don’t have to I don’t want to quit the one job that I have been able to keep. I was told my cancer is incurable I continue to have problems but I am doing what I can to survive. If dying is what the damned government wants then they’re pushing it.

  125. Steph says:

    Ok if a person on SSI Try’s to go back to work for 20 hours or less a week will they still receive their benefits ? And may they claim income tax ?

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Steph,

      Thank you for your comment. The SGA rules discussed above are relevant with regards to SSDI benefits. SGA is not relevant to the continuation of your SSI benefits. If you are working and receiving SSI benefits, SSA disregards the first $65 you earn in a month; or as much as $85, if you do not have any other income. If you earn more than $65 (or $85, if applicable), SSA reduces your SSI benefit $1 for every $2 you earn in that month.

      I’m not sure I understand you second question.

      David

  126. Sassy lady says:

    I am receiving SSDI for the past 6 months. They sent me a work activity report form to be filled out. I have not been physically working for the past year although I am receiving pay through my job since it was a work related injury. All this info was disclosed at my hearing. In your opinion are they going to recalculate/reduce my monthly benefit amount once they review my work activity report?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. So long as the income is not the result of work activity, it should not affect your monthly benefit. I would make sure to indicate truthfully that the income is not the result of work activity and explain the reason why you are still receiving money from your employer (e.g., accrued sick leave, donated leave, or workers’ compensation, etc.).

      David

  127. Edward Fair says:

    Hi. I worked as a customer service representative for 6 years prior to becoming disabled. I receive monthly sad payments. If I was to go back to work as a customer service representive do I still get the 9 month trail and 3 year temp time or will they say I am doing the same job as I did and therefore I am not disabled. Also, if I kept it under $700 a month would it be a lot easier for them to flag me since it s the same type of work? Thanks.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Edward,

      Thank you for the comment. It is difficult to say what SSA is doing behind the scenes. According to the program rules, if it was determined that you had medical improvement and were no longer disabled, you wold not be entitled to the trial work period. If you did not have medical improvement (i.e., just started to work again), then regardless of the type of work you did, you would be entitled to the trial work period and extended period of entitlement.

      David

  128. Hector Lorente says:

    Hello, I have a simple question. I have applied for permanent disability and want to know how my benefits could be affected if my wife gets a temporary job (for 5 months at $1000 a month).

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Hector,

      Thank you for your comment. If you receive SSDI benefits, your wife’s income has no impact on those benefits. If you receive SSI benefits, the entire household’s income and resources will affect your eligibility for those benefits.

      David

  129. JR says:

    Please help I have a question and most of the answers I get are just too confusing. It’s like SS wants to catch us in a trap.

    I have recently starting back working as well and am getting SSDI benefits. I have used up about 4 months of my TWP. I make a good bit when I do go to work, but it is only on a storm basis (hurricanes, ice storms, and blizzards). I have worked 27 days in the past 13 months, but have made about $17,000 but I am paid by 1099, would I be considered self employed? They are under the impression I have a job, but I think since I have to file a 1099 I am self employed. Also at this current rate, do you think they would eventually end my benefits? I average about $5,000 a storm, but like I’ve said I’ve been on 3 since August of 2012 so this is not something I would get every month.

    Also I have confused on the extended period after the TWP, for that 36 months do they just not pay me on the months I make more than the amount listed? Pretty much everytime I’m called out I can guarantee I will make more. Would they try to hit me for making too much after my first big storm?

    It’s like they bait you in, but then penalize you because your job is a high paying gig. I do make good money when I work, but 27 days a year wont support me and my family of 3.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear JR,

      Thank you for your comment. If you are receiving a 1099 you will considered to be self-employed. For individuals who are receiving wages, the SSA looks at the gross wages to determine if you are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). The rules are different and not so clear for self-employed individuals. SSA regulations provide that they will “consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in [SGA] if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements.” CFR § 404.1575(a)(2). Unfortunately, there is no easy answer with self-employed individuals. It is very difficult for me to advice you (or anyone) that work activity will not affect your entitlement to disability benefits.

      With regards to your second question, during the 36 month Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), you will not receive a benefit check in any month in which you are determined to have engaged in SGA.

      David

  130. tiztina says:

    Hello,
    I filed for SSDI over 2 yrs ago and have finally gotten a court date. I have an attorney helping me with everything. I have worked from home as an independent contractor/self employed for almost 5 yrs but make well below SGA standards.
    I am only 45 and have a list of all kinds of health problems like Heart disease,Restless Leg Syndrome, Scoliosis, Fibermyalgia,Neuropothy,Arthritis and on and on. I am worried that because i am considered to be self employed that it may hurt me winning my case. What are the rules for this when a person works from home but makes below SGA and files for SSDI? My attorney says that it does not matter that I am self employed as long as I make below SGA, Is this correct or will they say if I am self employed that I can work a regular job outside of home?
    Thanks

  131. Jamie says:

    How long do cdr take to process ? I have major depressive disorder and generelazized anxiety and migraines….. I want to use ticket to work to attend college. Will that be possible? Ticket to work is confusing when it comes to college all I hear people talk about is work? I want to get training to do something less stressful where I can set my hours?

  132. This is all so confusing…looking at the SGA amount for 2013 in looks like you can earn $1040 per month before being penalized. Is this correct? My disability is based on several different diagnosis combined, one being severe depression. Due to a misdiagnosis and medication change which interacted one of my other medications earlier this year I ended up in ICU on life support. As a result of that, my ex-husband took my daughter out of state and now the amount I was receiving for her is being sent to him…obviously causing financial hardship…especially considering the unexpected medical bills. Soooo…I know I cannot work a full time job or return to my previous profession, but a part time job would definitely help out even if short term. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  133. TC says:

    David, Thx for the great info…
    I have been on SSDI disability for 9 months ..in your opinion what are the chances if I go back to work in a totally different job type and stay under the $750 that it will trigger medical reviews and put me on SSDI’s radar to take away my benefits?
    I cannot work much but have been offered a job that I can do for 16hrs per week.. I would not consider doing this but, with my benefits and cutting my costs to the bone I am still in the red $400 per month and need to stop the bleeding before I am out on the street.. thx

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  134. Tim says:

    I just got a note from the law judge saying his decision was Fully Favorable . He wanted to see me get ssi to get surgery done on my back. I have a meeting with case worker. Where dies it go from here? I have worked part oftge time during the summer performing weddings. Will I have to stop doing that.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. It typically takes 30-60 days to receive the Notice of Award which describes the amounts of money you are due monthly and for past due benefits. As far as your work activity is concerned, if the Award is for SSI benefits that will affect the amount of your benefit.

      David

  135. Andy says:

    Hello,
    I have a problem. my brother unexpectedly died in a car accident and
    am the executor of the estat and I’m scared I will lose sasi because
    payment for doing will will be taxable. I don’t know what to do since I
    can’t risking loading sari. I don’t want to refuse to do this because bro
    wanted me to do this but the fear of having this caue a as review is causing
    added stress. Any idea what to do? Thank you dear friend of the disabled.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. As I am also the manager of our firm’s estate practice, I am particularly well suited to answer your question. (See http://www.marylanedestatelaw.com). The solution is simple, agree to be the personal representative and but do not request a commission. In my office, most of our personal representatives do not get paid for their efforts. That way you could fulfill your brother’s wishes and have no income as a result. Of course the other thing you could do is to make sure that you do not earn enough to rise to the TWP or SGA levels.

      David

      • Andy says:

        Dear David,
        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I’m guessing that even if I accepted a amount less than the TWP or SGA amount I would be required to report that to SSA? And that doing so could possibly trigger a a review? The extra funds would certainly be a godsend, but the anxiety it would cause over a possible review would be to much for me to take. Am I correct that any amount would have to be reported? Sorry for so many questions and all the typos in my previous question. My your kindness in helping other be rewarded to you many times over.

  136. Vicky says:

    I am trying to help somebody fill out the forms for an reconsideration of benefits. This is really hard, this person has so many things wrong with her health I can’t believe that they turned her down. The real problem is she is still working. She is working as few hours as possible, and she swears somebody at Social Security told her she could work 80 hours and it wouldn’t matter. But I disagree. I think that is what has help her up. Frankly she is a single mother with a child still at home. And that is the only reason she works. They barely get by but her family and friends help a lot. Can you give me any advice or is it a hopeless matter until she is out on the streets?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. If she is making over SGA ($1040 per month in 2013), then she is technically “working” and not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The hours are not as important as the gross earnings.

      David

  137. stephridosh says:

    I have a quick question. I have been on SSDI since 2009. I just started working in September just a few hours a week. Min wage. I have my paychecks but have not reported it yet, I have everything to report I just have not had the time between dr appts and being sick and trying to work to research how to report it. Will I be penalized for reporting 2 months late? I’m single 34 and have anxiety. This all confuses me. I didn’t know when I was supposed to report it. I don’t want to get into trouble for reporting late. Please help. thank you.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. I would report it as soon as you can. If SSA sees the earnings via the payroll tax mechanism before you report it to them, you will receive a somewhat nasty letter.

      David

  138. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this post. This gives me a little more insight. I am really wanting to go back to work but would be lying if I didn’t admit it terrifies me. Due to the nature of my disability I am going to become self employed. Anyway, I was impressed the most with learning how SS views SGA. Gave me some more things to consider while venturing out to set up my own business. Its nice to get a ‘real’ opinion outside of SS or folks that work in a program of some sort for them. Again, thanks for a great post. :0)

  139. Brandy says:

    I am 37 years old, and I had a kidney transplant 19 months ago, after being on dialysis for 18 months. I have had multiple complications including a second surgery to repair a ureter, a BK virus attacking my new kidney, and ongoing rejection which just recently subsided. Unfortunately, psoriatic arthritis (and psoriasis) that I had years ago have returned and been flaring for many months now. For years, I took Humira and was symptom free, but had to stop taking the medication when I had the transplant. I was told that the Cellcept that I took for rejection would keep it from returning. Well, that was not the case. My entire body is covered in psoriasis which itches and burns intensively, and three major joints are effected by the arthritis: my left knee, right wrist/hand, and my left shoulder. All of my doctors are telling me that they can’t do anything about the arthritis because of the impact that medication would have on my kidney. So, basically, they are telling me that I’m out of luck. Some days I can move around okay, but I’m ALWAYS in a lot of pain. I can’t turn a door handle, take a bath, dress myself, or drive some days. I just switched jobs in August and took a 13K pay cut in order to try and continue to work full time with less physical expectations, but if I can’t even get to work, then I can’t do my job. I have an M.Ed. and make a decent middle-class salary, but as a result of working for 15 years making a good living, I have a mortgage that reflects that salary. Since the housing market crashed, I’m upside down at least 50K and couldn’t sell my home any time soon. My fear is that I could lose my home to foreclosure going through the SSDI process. Also, because I still have ongoing major medical costs, I’m not sure how I would pay for my transplant medication. When I first started the job, I was missing about 1/10 days, then 1/8, and now it’s about 1/5. My sick days are almost depleted. I would ideally like to work half time, which I can currently do, and still apply for SSDI. It sounds to me like that alone could keep me from qualifying. Should I go ahead and start the process now? Or should I wait until I literally can’t work more than a day (or a few hours) a week?

    One more quick question: Considering my multiple health issues, I was told that I would likely be approved more quickly. Do you think that is true? Should my case be easy to prove? I have 13 years of medical evidence of the current disability (arthritis).

    Thanks so much for insight you have into my situation.

  140. Darcie Murry says:

    I am waiting now 2.5 years for Social Security case to be heard by judge!! I have a broken neck, bulging n combressed disks in my neck, RA, Fibermyalgia, aniexty, depression. Still in a neck brace. Almost lost my house n 4 kids!! I’m living off my kids child support n state!! I would like to know if I sold Avon part-time n brought in a couple hundred a month to help with bills n essentials could it hurt my case if getting accepted???

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to wait that long for a hearing. I tell my clients that if they need to work to eat . . . work. However, it certainly could affect your claim for disability benefits as I indicated in the blog above.

      David

  141. Kieth says:

    I am on ssdi due to several back injury and colon issues my question is. I would like to teach CCDW classes which will pay very little and the hours are only 8-10hrs once a month and sometimes once every few months. The pay works out to I would charge a trainee 50.00 for the class 25.00 of which goes to the state. Total of the 50.00 class fee for a year might only be 1000-2000 a year at most and half of that would go to the state I live in for the trainee test fees. Would that affect my ssdi? Would that be considered SGA? I can not work at all due to my disability but as stated the classes are no physical labor only showing video and administering a test. It would be nice to be able to pay all my bills on time every month and by doing this along with my ssdi would enable me to accomplish this..

    Thanks for any in site

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. This is definitely work activity and, if you earned enough, would count as SGA. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  142. Melanie says:

    Hi. I know you basically answered this in your blog, but I want to run my question by you to be safe. My mother was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer Jan. 2013 and received extensive chemo and radiation and had surgery over the summer to remove one of her lungs. So far, she’s beating all kinds of odds. Late summer she began receiving disability payments of $509 a month. She’s had an offer from her past employer, who she loves, to come in and work occasionally as needed and when she was up to it at a different task, at a desk and rather than on her feet as she used to work. We would probably be looking at 4-6 days a month at 4-5 hours a day, at the most, at like $9.00 per hour. Even that would be inconsistent though because it’s a very small company where the amount of work available varies greatly and there could be months where they didn’t need her at all. She lives in MO and is 56, if that matters, and was newly diagnosed with concurring conditions such as emphysema and COPD. She has a great, flexible relationship with the employer or she wouldn’t really even be able to consider it, but being able to get out occasionally or earn even a little much needed money would be wonderful for her physically and emotionally. Would you think it unwise to do this if she was very much in need of her disability payments for survival, even if they are only $500 a month, and if she is no way “out of the woods” with her condition even if she is feeling a bit better right now? Thanks!

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  143. Chris Perry says:

    It is the Administration’s intent to get people off their rolls, even beneficiaries who they deem permanently disabled, i.e HIV/aids. SSA then introduces their Ticket To Work program to further their intent, confuse claimants, and possibly earn claimants an express ticket to prison. SSA does not observe their own regulations, suppress timely processing of claims, and clearly have no regard for the disabled and it seems that Congress has a hand in this. The Ticket to Work program is a scam and you will not only loose your financial benefits but also your much needed medical benefits. My advice is to trash your Ticket. I wish I did because now I work far below the poverty level, much less tham my previous benifits and I have no stable health benefits for my HIV/AIDS.

  144. Eric says:

    How, about those on supplemental security income? Do I just work and report, aply to be able to do so? Its not to clear but I know that people on ssdi get the 9mnth but us on ssi don’t. Its just the getting started is what im trying to find out.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. The SGA rules discussed above are relevant with regards to SSDI benefits. SGA is not relevant to the continuation of your SSI benefits. If you are working and receiving SSI benefits, SSA disregards the first $65 you earn in a month; or as much as $85, if you do not have any other income. If you earn more than $65 (or $85, if applicable), SSA reduces your SSI benefit $1 for every $2 you earn in that month.

      David

  145. Mona says:

    Hi, Your blog has answered most of my questions, but i need to just make sure i am completely understanding. My dad is disabled and is getting money every month, and since i am 17 and still in high school I still receive money every month too, until I graduate high school of course. However, if I were to get a part time job now just to make a little bit more money every month, Would i lose the money from Social Security that I get every month?

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. If your benefits are based upon your father’s disability, they will end at age 18 unless you are still in high school (not college). Before turning 18, working a part time job should have no effect on these benefits because you will probably not earn enough. The benefits are reduced if you make more than $15,120 per year (in 2013).

      David

  146. Tom Tuttle says:

    Please help. I was found to be Disabled in 2011(Fully favorable) After multiple back surgeries. My wife recently opened a small business. During these days of bad weather I drive her to work and stay their for the day. There is a couch that I can lay on and I sit and stand as needed, based on pain. While there I have had to answer her business phone a couple times. I have also went there when she has late nights as it is in a relative remote location and she works alone. My concern is if this is considered working? I have never been there more than 12-15 hours in a week. I don’t assist with any of the services she provides but as I said have spent some time there mainly as a safety precaution. Will this violate my SSD?

  147. tom t. says:

    To add some background info to the previous post:; I am unable to sit/stand for any significant amount of time and while at my wifes business I do not do anything that my disability says I can’t and when I do have a bad(pain) day I simply can’t help her. As much as I would love to work again I couldn’t find, and a vocational expert testified that there are o jobs in the area where I have the freedom to constantly go from sitting to standing to laying down as needed.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Tom,

      Thank you for your comments. I do not believe going to your wife’s business to keep her company while she works would affect your SSD benefits if you are not actively working. If circumstances change and during the 12-15 hours you are there you start to work and earn an income there is always a possibility it could affect your benefits. For more information on that please refer to the above post for guidelines as well as the links included in the blog which will take you to the SSA website regarding Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and Trial Work Period (TWP).

      Sincerely,
      David

  148. Jeff says:

    This is such a valuable site. You give good legal advice about SSA. God bless you in giving of your time in answerting questions. I have also enjoyed hearing people’s stories.
    I work for 2 companies as in independent contractor. When I work I get paid per job. A typical job would take two hours to complete and I would get paid $25 per job. The most I have worked was 4 hours a month and made about $75 a month; many times the hours are less the jobs are less resulting in my pay be less.
    I was going back and forth if I should keep working and if I should do the Ticket to Work Program. I am currently on SSDI. I am concerned about looseing my benefits and know that it is always a gamble with SSA even if you are way below the SGA. I think I might continue working and do the Ticket to Work Program. Can you give me your insights and let me know from your experience in working with people for many years, if I should continue to work? I know you can’t gurantee what the SSA will do if someone starts working even if it is very low.
    Thanks for your input, wisdom and time.

    Jeff

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  149. paul zullo says:

    Thank you for the sound advise as much as I desire to make more money in this economy I.am.thankful to our great country taking.care.so I may live a good life. I receive.a.good amount.t and should just not wake the sleeping.giant lol thank you for your free valuable information.

  150. Erin says:

    I have a friend who is working at McDonalds and her monthly income is about $500. Would she be able to receive SSDI and keep her job?? She doesn’t want to stop working, but she needs the benefits because she has depression, anxiety, hyper-bipolar. She does take meds and sees a doctor on a regular basis, but since she has no medical coverage, she has to pay out of pocket for her visits. I told her to call and speak to someone about it, but she is reluctant to do so.

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  151. yolanda Rodriguez says:

    Dear Tom ,I was wondering I get disabily 600 monthly. I have 10.000 in retirement ,if I get into my retirement ,will I lose my disability, im struggling cant work ,that is all that I have in retirement they said I need to get it all out.the whole sum. please if any advice you can give me thanks.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Yolanda,

      Thank you for your comment. You should have no problems. The retirement savings are not income from work activity — or at least, not current work activity.

      David

  152. Judy says:

    Hi David, I receive $1211 in Social Security Disability for fibromyalgia and I am going through a divorce. I can not live on this amount. If I get a part-time job making $500.00 a month will my Social Security Disability be discontinued? Thanks Judy

    • dgalinis says:

      Thank you for your comment. My blog contains the advice I feel comfortable giving regarding the impact of work activity on disability benefits. Although I don’t think the risk is great if you are below the TWP and SGA guidelines per month, there is some risk with any work activity.

      David

  153. Frank Lopez says:

    I had a small unprofitable cake business started when I went on disability. It was more of a hobby turned “business” that faltered when I went on disability. I only did cakes after that when I felt good but I was still needing to include it when filing my tax returns. Can I claim deductions for that business while on permanent disability or will they view it as a violation of my disability claim? I have never made a profit for this “business” but I’ve certainly had some liability where it’s concerned in the state of California. I’m screwed…

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Frank,

      Thank you for your comment. Thank you for your comment. The type of work you describe would be considered to be self employment. The rules are different and not so clear for self-employed individuals. SSA regulations provide that they will “consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements.” CFR § 404.1575(a)(2). Unfortunately, there is no easy answer with self-employed individuals.

      Finally, SSA requires that you report any work activity.

      David

  154. Shellby says:

    Hi:

    I have been on SSDI for over 10 years. I was able to work f/t until the age of 37 when my health began to change. Basically, bipolar, seizures, anxiety, etc. I found a part-time job where I work 2 afternoons a week (3-4 hours each afternoon). 24-32 hours a month. Due to illness, my employer will often switch my hours around if illness becomes an issue. Should I be considered about loosing my ssdi? I send my timecards to Social Security, but I am so scared of loosing my benefits. I’ve had seizures on the job but I have a boss who knows how much I love being needed and how my part-time job has been so beneficial. My therapists/psychiatrists do not see me ever being able to work full-time given my illness and I am not working for the money. In fact, before the job, I was eligible for Medicaid. Because of the job, I lost the Medicaid due to my increase in income. Now, each month, I have to pay $177.00 for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care which means I bring home only approximately $125.00 a month. Should I inform SSDI of the $177.00 a month I must pay before returning to work? Is there anyone at Social Security that is available to help me with these questions? I’m scared, I’m useless, I’m a waste. I used to be so much more.

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Shellby,

      Thank you for your comment. All I can recommend is that you diligently report your work activity to SSA. I’m not sure that the money for health care would matter but you are allowed to deduct Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE). You can report those expenses on the Work Activity Report.

      David

  155. Sean Landry says:

    Hello-

    I had been receiving SSDI since September 2013 after applying for SSDI benefits in May 2013. (Am profoundly deaf since birth and SSDI declared me disabled as a result after being examined by an Audiologist picked by Social Security.) Found a new job in July 2013 but lost the job due to layoff in December 2013.

    On June 6th, I received a letter from SS stating that I was ineligible for disability payments due to the fact that I returned to substantial gainful work within 1 year of when I became disabled. So does this mean that they will deny me benefits even though I have been laid off and unable to find a job (probably due to my disability of being deaf). What can I do to get my SSDI reinstated by SSD administration or am I “screwed” as one friend put it.

    Thank you for your response.

    By the way, thanks for an excellent blog!

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Mr. Landry,

      Thank you for your comment. Entitlement to SSDI benefits requires, among other things, that you be unable to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months. Occasionally, people are granted SSDI benefits before having been out of work for 12 months because it is likely that they will be out for longer than 12 months. However, if that person returned to substantial gainful activity before 12 months has expired, they would be technically ineligible for SSDI benefits. You could appeal the decision. But if there was no period in which you were not performing SGA for at least 12 months, you may need to file a new claim. You should speak to an attorney and go over your options in depth.

      David

  156. Eve S. says:

    HI,
    I was a RN for many years, I’m now 60. I had a spinal injury from a disease that left me paralyzed for many months, I now walk with a cane but can no longer perform nursing duties. I’m also battling cancer and have suffered multiple health conditions affecting my heart, lungs neuro system and have been in the ICU twice in the last year with multiple PE’s. I really want to go back to work so I’m trying to take some courses online so I can get a desk job in Medical Records. I’ve read warnings from people that SSDI can determine you no longer disabled if you attend some sort of education or training. But I also read on the SSA site that if you can no longer physically perform the job you had before being disabled and were trained for, you are allowed to get training for a new job and still get SSDI. I would think they’d want me to get training for a job I can physically do so I can eventually stop receiving SSDI. Can you give me the right answer to this conundrum? As I said, the program is all online which I can handle at home. I really do want to go back to work, I miss that paycheck! :)

    • dgalinis says:

      Dear Eve,

      Thank you for your comment. The information you provided about your age, work experience, and impairments lead me to believe that your benefits would not be in jeopardy based upon your educational efforts alone. My understanding of continuing disability reviews is that once you have disability benefits, they are only terminated if there is sufficient work activity or there has been actual medical improvement.

      David

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