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Can You Work and Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries face a dilemma. Although their condition might be improving, they are not well enough to begin working full time. Unfortunately, if they start working even part-time, they fear that the government will cut off their benefits. What can they do?

Thankfully, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows SSDI recipients to work part-time. This allows those recipients to begin transitioning back to work, or at least test the waters to see if they can begin employment again—all without losing their SSDI benefits. Even better, they can even start working full-time for a trial period. Contact Gallo, Cazort, and Co. to talk with our ArkansasSSDI attorney if you have questions.

How Much Can You Make?

Generally, you can work so long as you do not earn more than what SSA identifies as “substantial gainful activity” or SGA. This is the maximum amount you make. SGA changes every year, but for 2023 the maximum is $1,470 a month for most people, which works out to $17,640 a year. If you’re blind, you can make $2,460 a month. So long as you make less than SGA each month, you can still receive your benefits.

Is There a Risk?

Possibly. SSA conducts disability reviews on a periodic basis. If you are working, even part-time, the agency might believe you’ve improved enough that you can work full-time and finally get off SSDI benefits. However, you can still receive benefits if you are physically limited.

Can You Work Full-Time?

Some SSDI recipients want to test the waters and see if they can return to work full-time. SSA has an obvious incentive to allow them to do this. However, many recipients are afraid they’ll immediately lose their benefits so they might never even try to go back to full-time employment.

SSA has created the “trial work period,” which comes in handy. This period lasts for nine months, during which a recipient can work full-time and make as much as they want. That means they can make more than SGA for that month. Any monthin 2023 in which you make more than $1,050 will count toward your nine-month trial period.

These months do not have to be consecutive. In fact, you can spread out your nine months over several years. This means you can try to work full-time for one month and then wait to try it again.

If you continue to work full-time after the completion of your trial work period, you are at risk of losing your benefits. However, SSA has created an extended period of eligibility for the three-years after the end of your trial work period. You may earn above SGA for three consecutive months without losing benefits.

Confused? We Can Help

Being able to work while receiving SSDI benefits has many advantages. Many recipients need the money to pay their monthly expenses. They also enjoy having something to do. If SSA is trying to cut off benefits, or if you have questions, please contact us.