If you are unable to work due to a disability, then you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Depending on your situation, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The process to get approved for SSDI and/or SSI can be lengthy, which can create financial difficulty for many people. However, if you continue to work while applying for disability or while you are waiting for a decision on your disability claim, then your application for disability benefits will likely be denied.
Among other factors, the SSA considers your ability to work in determining whether you are disabled. Generally, you should not apply for Social Security disability benefits while still working. If you have questions about the process, reach out to a skilled New Jersey disability lawyer to schedule a free claim review.
Your Ability to Work and The Disability Approval Process
To be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI, you must be able to prove that you are disabled. The SSA uses a five-step sequential process to determine if a person is disabled:
- If you are working, you cannot earn more than an average of $1,310 (in 2021) per month (known as substantial gainful employment). If you are not working, then the SSA’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) will decide your condition;
- Your impairment or combination of impairments must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work, and must be expected to last for a year or longer or to result in death;
- Your impairment must meet or exceed all of the requirements on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, or it must have other factors that equal a medical condition on the list;
- If your impairment does not meet this criterion, then it must prevent you from performing any of your past work; and
- You must not be able to do any other type of work, based on your impairment, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills.
The very first step of this process focuses on your ability to work, or in SSA terminology, to participate in substantial gainful activity. While you can work and still be approved for SSDI and/or SSI, if you exceed the monthly income limits of $1,310 for a non-blind individual for SSDI or $794.00 plus $20 for SSI, you do not qualify under the current definition of disability.
If you continue to work full-time – even if you are working through pain – then the SSA typically will not consider your disability benefits application. It may be possible to reduce your hours and work part-time, so long as you do not earn more than the monthly income limits. If you are receiving accommodations in order to work, Social Security may subtract the dollar value of these accommodations when counting your income.
There is no set number of hours that you can work per month and still be approved for disability benefits. Instead, Social Security looks at how much money you are earning to determine if you qualify as disabled. If you are working full-time or nearly full-time, then your application may be denied.
Even if you are working part-time and below the “SGA” amounts, Social Security may still look to your work activity as potential evidence of your ability to do more. If you are Self Employed, the rules above are replaced with more case-specific rules, and even if you are well under SGA, Social Security may consider your work to be substantial if it is similar to the effort performed by other non-disabled people in the same position.
Can You Get Approved for Disability While Working?
It is possible to be approved for disability while you are working. However, if the SSA determines that you are engaging in substantial gainful activity – earning over the income limit – then your disability claim may be denied.
Social Security rules on working while applying for disability or awaiting a determination are complex. Generally, if you plan to apply for Social Security, you should quit your job. While you may still qualify for disability benefits while working, the SSA might deny your disability application on the basis that you are not disabled.
There are many things to take into consideration before you file for SSD benefits. A skilled disability benefits lawyer can work with you to help you determine whether you may be eligible for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.
What Can I Do for Income While Waiting for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you qualify for other types of assistance, you may consider applying for these programs while you wait for your Social Security disability to be approved. Some states, including New Jersey, offer short-term disability benefits for people with disabilities who are unable to work. Alternatively, if you have disability insurance, you may qualify for short-term disability before being approved for SSDI and/or SSI.
The best way to increase the likelihood of your Social Security disability claim being approved is to work with a skilled attorney who can ensure that your forms are filled out correctly and that all supporting documentation is submitted to the SSA. Bross & Frankel represents individuals who cannot work due to a disability. Give our office a call today to schedule a free claim review.
How Many Hours Can I Work While Applying for Social Security Disability?
Social Security’s rules focus more on how much you earn to determine if you are performing substantial gainful activity – and not the number of hours that you work. However, if you are self-employed or the head of a business, then you may work a certain number of hours without receiving an hourly wage. In this situation, you may be permitted to work up to 45 hours per month as long as you are not earning over the income limit.
These rules are complicated and can be confusing. To make sure that any extra income you bring in doesn’t affect your eligibility for Social Security disability, reach out to a seasoned disability benefits lawyer to schedule a free consultation.
Will I Lose My Disability Benefits If I Work Part-Time?
If you have already been approved for Social Security disability benefits, then you are limited in how much you can work. These disability programs have strict income limits. If you earn over a certain amount – known as substantial gainful activity – in a month, then you may lose your disability benefits.
Getting approved for SSDI and/or SSI can be challenging. Once you have secured these benefits, you will want to make sure that you keep them. If you have questions about your disability application or benefits, reach out to our office to schedule a free claim review.
Reach Out Today for a Free Claim Review
The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be overwhelming, particularly when you are already dealing with a health issue. If you plan to stop working or have already quit your job, reach out to a New Jersey disability lawyer to schedule a free consultation about your case.
Bross & Frankel represents people with disabilities throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania who are unable to work due to a disability. For help with the Social Security disability process, give us a call at 856-795-8880. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule a free claim review with an SSD attorney.
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.