When medical or mental health impairments cause a disability that prevents you from working, the stress and anxiety brought on by the financial pressures can be overwhelming. Fortunately, the Social Security Disability Insurance program administered by Social Security provides monthly payments if your application for benefits is approved.
One of the most often asked questions people have for the disability advocates at London Disability is, “How much can I earn on SSDI?” It may appear to be a simple question, but as with most things associated with SSDI, the answer is not as simple. We will, however, answer it for you in this article by beginning when you submit an initial application for benefits.
What is SSDI?
SSDI provides a monthly benefit for people unable to work because of a disability. Do not confuse it with state programs that pay a benefit to workers for partial or short-term disability. To qualify for SSDI, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to cause your death.
In addition to being disabled, you must have worked at jobs or been self-employed and paid Social Security taxes on the money you earned. Your work history must be long enough and recent enough to qualify to have earned enough work credits.
A work credit is earned for each $1,470 of annual income from work or self-employment. You may earn up to four credits each year. The total number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI and how recently some of them must have been earned depends upon the age that you become disabled. Younger workers require fewer work credits than someone older at the onset of a disability.
If working when applying for SSDI, how much you earn may be a factor that causes Social Security to decide that you are not disabled. The reason is that you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity or SGA to be disabled, and one measure of SGA is how much money you earn from employment. For 2021, earning more than $1,310 means you are not disabled. The monthly amount is $2,190 for someone who is blind and applying for SSDI.
How much does SSDI pay in benefits?
The amount you receive each month from SSDI depends on your lifetime average earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes. Your monthly payments from SSDI may be reduced if you also receive other types of government benefits, including workers’ compensation and pensions.
However, some payments you receive, such as Veterans Administration benefits do not reduce your SSDI payments. An SSDI advocate from London Disability can help you to determine how much you will receive in disability payments based on your earnings record.
Working while disabled
Social Security offers work incentives if you wish to work and earn SSDI. It allows you to determine whether your medical or mental health condition allows you to work without jeopardizing your benefits while trying.
Available work incentives while on SSDI include the following:
1). Trial work period: Test whether you can work during a trial work period for up to nine months. Your monthly SSDI payments will not be affected by what you earn from work as long as you notify Social Security that you are working. It also applies to self-employment. A trial work month is any month that you earn more than $940, and the nine months do not have to be consecutive as long as they are used within 60 months.
2). An extended period of eligibility: You have the option to continue to work beyond the nine-month trial period for an additional 36 months. Your benefits continue as long as you do not earn more than $1,310 for the month. If you do, your benefits continue for the month you exceed the SGA amount and the two months after it. If you are within the 36-month period, benefits can be reinstated without a new application provided your monthly income from work drops below the SGA amount.
3). Working beyond the 36-month EPE: Special rules allow you to continue to work and receive benefits as long as your earnings remain below the SGA amount. However, if you exceed it, your benefits stop. Should you stop working because of your medical or mental health condition you have up to five years to request reinstatement of your benefits.
The Ticket to Work program offers help for SSDI recipients who would like to attempt to return to work. It provides training, vocational rehabilitation, job referrals, and other help.
Speak with an SSDI advocate
A disability advocate from London Disability can be an invaluable source of information, advice, and assistance whether you are applying for SSDI or receiving benefits and want guidance about programs allowing you to return to work while you earn SSDI. Instead of trying to sort through the rules and regulations, an SSDI advocate can provide answers to your questions from years of experience helping people with Social Security issues.