If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may qualify for disability benefits offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are two types of cash benefits that you may qualify for, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For both disability programs, there are restrictions on the amount of income that you can earn to qualify.
To be approved for SSDI benefits, you must earn below a certain threshold of income each month. In 2021, the monthly income limit is $1,310 for people who are not blind. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must have limited income and assets. Eligibility for SSI is based on a formula that counts certain types of income and excludes other income.
These disability benefits can be critical to anyone who finds themselves unable to work because of a medical condition or mental health issue. If you have questions about whether you qualify for SSD benefits, reach out to a New Jersey disability benefits attorney to schedule a free claim review.
How Much Can You Make While on SSD?
To understand income limits for SSD, it is important to learn the difference between the two types of benefits: SSDI and SSI. Both programs are intended to provide financial support for Americans who are unable to work due to a disability. An individual may qualify for one or both types of benefits.
Eligibility for SSDI is based on three main criteria. First, an individual must have paid into the Social Security system by working and earning a certain number of work credits. Second, they must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled. Third, they must be unable to work for a year or more, or their impairment or condition must be terminal.
As part of the SSDI determination process, the SSA considers whether a person is able to work and if so, if they are engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). If the person earns more than a certain amount, they are deemed to participate in SGA – and do not qualify as disabled.
By contrast, eligibility for SSI is not based on your work credits. To qualify, you must be disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older. In addition, you must have limited income and assets.
SSI strictly limits the resources that a person can have in order to qualify, including their cash, bank accounts, vehicles, and anything that can be changed to cash. An individual must also have a fairly limited income. The earning limit for SSI is somewhat elastic, as certain types of income are not counted.
For both SSDI and SSI, you can still work and receive benefits. However, you can only earn a limited amount of money before your eligibility for benefits is affected. There is not a limit on the number of hours that you can work for either program, as long as you do not exceed the income limits.
Earning Limits in 2021
The income limits for Social Security disability benefits change annually, based on the annual wage index. In 2021, the monthly earning limit for SSDI is $1,310 for a non-blind individual and $2,190 for blind applicants. If you earn above this amount each month, then you are said to be engaging in substantial gainful activity, and will no longer qualify for SSDI.
For qualifying for SSDI some types of earnings are not counted. This includes a spouse’s income and unearned income from sources like investments and interest. These types of income don’t affect eligibility because they are unrelated to your ability to work.
Because SSI is a needs-based program, more types of income are counted. The SSA considers many types of earnings to be “countable income” for SSI. This includes earned income, unearned income, in-kind income (such as living rent-free with family members), and deemed income (money earned by someone in your household, such as your parents’ income). Some types of income are excluded from the SSI calculation, such as grants or scholarships, the value of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (food stamps), certain work expenses, and home energy assistance.
Generally, if you earn $794 per month, plus $20.00 (the first $20 of most income earned in a month), then you will not be eligible for SSI benefits. If you work and earn less than this threshold, you may still qualify for SSI. However, your monthly benefit amount will typically be lower than the maximum federal benefit rate. This is due to the fact that SSI is designed for people with low income and relatively few assets.
The rules for SSI income limits are complicated. In some cases, you may earn above the monthly income limit and still be eligible. In this situation, working with a disability benefits lawyer can help you figure out if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Considering Applying for Disability Benefits? Reach Out Today.
If you find yourself unable to work after being diagnosed with a medical or mental health condition, you may be worried about your future. Social Security disability benefits can often help to meet your financial needs, offering a monthly cash benefit to qualified applicants.
At Bross & Frankel, we are dedicated to helping people with disabilities get the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. We offer free claim reviews for all cases so that you can learn more about your rights and options. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a New Jersey disability lawyer, contact us today at 856-795-8880 or fill out our online contact form.
Rich Frankel is the managing partner of Bross & Frankel. He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. He has focused exclusively on disability and social security benefits since 2005.
Mr. Frankel joined what is now Bross & Frankel after having watched his father struggle with disability, fighting a lengthy illness. Mr. Frankel founded the firm’s veteran’s law practice and substantially grew the social security disability practice, focusing Bross & Frankel’s ability to fight for all of the disability benefits available to his clients.
Mr. Frankel additionally fights for clients in court, obtaining frequent victories in Social Security appeals and against insurance companies in Federal court.