Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

It’s a conundrum: you’re applying for disability benefits because you can no longer work (or will be soon unable.) But while you’re waiting and trying to qualify, the bills keep coming. You need income and have to work, even though you’re in pain and barely or unable to work. So what’s the solution?

Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

The short answer is: Yes. You can apply for disability while you’re still working, but there is a limit to how much you can earn. As long as you earn less than $1,310, the 2021 threshold for monthly income, you are able to continue working. For applicants who are legally blind, the limit is $2,190.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Substantial Gainful Activity

One of Social Security’s deciding criteria is SGA or substantial gainful activity. In other words, how much are you working, and how difficult is it for you to work? If you are working part-time and earning the limit or under, and are working your claim you can no longer do, chances are you will not appear “disabled” to the SSA.

SSA will investigate your job, which includes both the type of work you do and how many hours you work in that job. They will also examine how much effort you are putting into the vocation, whether you’re working at a desk answering incoming phone calls or in a trade requiring physical labor (i.e., plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc.)

Chances are that if you do continue to work while waiting for approval, an appeal, or an administrative law judge hearing, your chances of approval will decrease. This is especially true for a part-time position doing jobs for which you are claiming disability.

Unsuccessful Working

You may still qualify for SSDI if you:

  • Stopped working due to your disabling condition
  • Applied for SSDI
  • Returned to work to pay the bills while waiting for SSDI approval
  • Were forced to stop working again due to your disability

This unsuccessful attempt at working means you are still eligible for SSDI, and shows that you made a good faith effort but were prevented by your disability.

Since every case is different, the SSA examines the type of work you were doing, what you may be doing now, and how your disability affects your ability to retain gainful employment.

If you believe you may return to work at some point in the future, you will have the opportunity to work again on a temporary “test” basis. If your condition improves, or things change, you will be able to start working again contingent on your abilities. Should you not be able to return to work, you will not have to reapply for SSDI.

Other Resources

Rather than working, you may be able to locate other resources in your community for help until you begin receiving disability benefits. Consider applying for:

Other options include borrowing or cashing out against a 401K, or borrowing against your home. Your disability lawyer can advise you if you’re considering utilizing assets.

Note that applying for Unemployment may be counter-productive. If you apply for Unemployment, the assumption is that you expect to return to work. You may be required to pay back those Unemployment benefits if you are eventually approved for SSDI.

Call Herren Law For Help With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Claims

If you are planning to apply for SSDI, we invite you to speak with us first, especially if you are still working. The application process is complex, and most are denied on the first try. Most applicants have better success with appeals.

We’re experienced in handling all types of benefit claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

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