Working While On Disability: Is It Possible?

Posted on: 28 May 2019


Social Security payments and employment income can coexist. In fact, oftentimes, it's often a good idea to work so that you can supplement your disability payment and maximize your earnings if you're able to do so. However, there are parameters to working while on disability. Make sure you are informed. 

Substantial Gainful Activity

When an individual earns over a certain amount of money within a month, they are thought to be engaging in substantial gainful activity, or SGA. The idea behind this classification is that if the individual is able to work and earn over a certain amount of money each month, they don't necessarily require the supplemental income received by disability. 

Before you begin a job, you need to determine what your SGA rating is, as the figure changes every year and is also based on the type of disability you're diagnosed with. For example, people with a blindness rating will typically have a higher SGA threshold.

Trial Work

In many instances, disability is intended to be a short-term solution. For this reason, the Social Administration gives each person what is known as a trial work period, in which you can earn an income that is beyond this SGA rating to test your ability to return to work. 

At the end of the trial, you can continue to work and cease your disability payments if your earnings are too high, or if working was too difficult based on your condition you can stop working or reduce your workload below the SGA rating and continue to receive payments. 

Payment Calculations

Even if your earnings meet the SGA requirements, don't assume that your benefits will go untouched. The amount you receive through disability payments will be offset based on the amount of money you earn. Generally, a preset amount of earnings is automatically forgiven. 

All earnings after this amount are known as countable income and are divided by half, and the disability payment is then reduced by this amount. Take someone with a countable income of $800, for example. Half of this amount is $400, so their disability payment would, in turn, be reduced by $400 each month.

It's always a good idea to speak with an attorney before you start working, especially if your case is still pending. If you aren't aware of these guidelines and your claim isn't finalized, you could jeopardize future payments. Every situation is different, so starting a job might not impact you in the same manner it does the next person. An attorney can answer specific questions about your situation and help you move forward. For more information, speak with legal professionals like Todd East Attorney at Law.