Can a Change in Income Disqualify My SSDI Benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a federally funded program that provides basic minimum income to individuals with disabilities who have limited resources or income. SSDI is intended for individuals with a qualifying work history from their own employment or through a relative, such as a parent or a spouse. The payments are based on earnings history, not the degree of disability involved.

Can a Change in Income Disqualify My SSDI Benefits?

Qualifying For SSDI

Social Security’s criteria involve limits on what a recipient receives, such as:

Income—the 2021 limit is $794 per month
Assets—anything of value, with some exceptions, such as a primary residence. Recipients can’t have more than $2,000 in assets at any time.
Anything beyond those levels of income will disqualify someone from SSDI. Other factors include:
Income from family members—for a married individual, a working spouse’s income will be counted when figuring a payment amount for SSDI
Food/shelter—for someone who lives with another individual, such as a sibling or adult child, that pays for the disabled individual’s living expenses, the free food and shelter will count as “in-kind” income.
• Income earned from working, even part-time

These benefits continue as long as you are disabled. Social Security regularly reviews recipients’ medical conditions, known as a continuing disability review (CDR). If a review shows that your condition has changed so that you are able to return to work on a regular basis, your benefits will cease.

Substantial Gainful Activity

One issue that can affect or disqualify someone from SSDI is Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), especially if it earns more than $1,310 monthly or $2,190 for someone who is blind. Earned income from a job indicates that a person may not be disabled if they’re able to work.
Volunteer work or work performed for a family member may also be considered SGA, even if they are unpaid. This can happen when the type and amount of work performed would be considered SGA under different circumstances. Even unpaid work can potentially impact SSDI monthly benefits if found to be substantial.

Returning To Work

As a rule, a person is considered “disabled” if the disability is expected to last 12 months or more or end in death. Social Security expects recipients to report any changes or additional income received that could impact benefit payments. However, if your disability isn’t permanent, or you’re interested in returning to work in a different capacity, Social Security offers a “Ticket To Work” incentive program. Recipients can “try out” working again without losing their benefits, including Medicaid/Medicare, as well as train to work in a different occupation.

Using a nine-month trial period—consecutively or non-consecutively—can help determine if you are able to return to work while under the auspices of SSDI. Social Security offers a more explicit explanation of returning to work on its website.

Houston’s Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney

The laws surrounding SSDI are complex and the process can be difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time and have a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get SSDI and other disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

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