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Working While Drawing Social Security Benefits

October 5, 2011 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Sad man on the wheelchair thinking about his career work.

One of the most-frequently-asked questions about Social Security is “Can I work and still receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?”

Like all answers to questions about the Social Security Administration (SSA), the answer is a bit complicated. It’s ‘yes’-as long as you are not engaging in “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA).

For the purpose of SSDI benefits, the SSA defines SGA as working more than 40 hours a week and earning more than $1,000 in gross wages each month. (For the self-employed, it’s net earnings after expenses, rather than gross wages.) Concerning SSI benefits, earning more than $85 a month will begin to reduce your benefits. As long as your work is under these limits, you can continue receiving payments.

But what about working full time? How does that impact your ability to receive benefits?

If you’re working 40 hours and/or making more than $1,000 a month consistently, SSA does not consider you disabled. Therefore, you do not qualify for benefits, and SSA will most likely terminate your benefits if you’ve been receiving them.

The monthly SGA amount allowed changes each year, so it’s important to stay updated from year to year to avoid losing your benefits due to a work situation. In fact, any time you work and receive any type of Disability benefits from the SSA, you should discuss how that work could affect your benefits with someone at your local Social Security office.

To learn more about working while disabled, see //www.ssa.gove/work/receivingbenefits.html on the Social Security Administration Web site or email for our free brochure, “Important Social Security Disability Information.”


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