Social Security Disability: Gainful Activity

What happens if you decide to seek employment while receiving Social Security Disability benefits?

Maryland SSD LawyerThis is one of the most common questions asked by Social Security Disability recipients. Maybe you are simply considering the possibility of going back to work. You might not even be sure to what extent you’ll be capable of working. The good news is that the Social Security Administration wants you to get back to work, if at all possible, and actually allows some people to collect benefits while doing so.

Before we dive into some of the details of returning to work while receiving Social Security Disability benefits, it is important to note that all recipients must report their employment to the Social Security Administration. You must also report any changes to your current employment to the Social Security Administration. Failure to do so could result in the termination of your benefits. You can report your employment in person or online, and you will then be sent a receipt of notification.

Central to the question of retaining benefits is what the Social Security Administration calls “substantial gainful activity.” Substantial gainful activity is a term referring to income that exceeds a certain threshold, which varies depending on the national average wage index. For example, in 2016, that threshold is $1,130 of earned income per month (or $1,820 for those who are blind). A person who earns more than that figure might have their benefits taken away. However, there are exceptions made for people who have certain costs, such as medical equipment needed for their condition or a personal assistant that is paid to take the individual to or from work. These costs can be deducted from the income generated.

If someone has their Social Security Disability benefits taken away due to employment, the Social Security Administration still grants a window of five years in which a person can determine whether or not they are capable of performing the job. This ensures that if your decision to return to the workforce was premature, you might still be eligible for benefits.

Recipients can also take advantage of a trial work period to determine whether they truly are ready to return to work. In this 60-month trial period, a person can work for a total of 9 months and earn more than $810 for each month. During the trial work period, they are still be able to collect benefits. After the trial period ends, they will also be able to receive Social Security Disability benefits, provided they don’t exceed the substantial gainful activity amounts mentioned above.

If you have questions about applying for Social Security Disability benefits in New York, or if you are currently on the Social Security Disability program and have questions about returning to work, Kaplan Lawyers PC can help. The process of applying for benefits can be a difficult one, and many applicants are not granted benefits on their first try. Our years of experience in Social Security Disability applications will be to your benefit. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

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