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How Much Can You Work While Receiving SSI Disability Benefits?


Qualifying for disability, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a process that is already a difficult one, and many who have qualified already still feel the need to work at least part-time, whether that to be for need-fulfillment or to supplement their income. Many who wish to do so, find themselves fearful of losing their SSI benefits, especially if they are concerned that they cannot sustain their work long-term. Here we address how much someone can work before it comes into conflict with SSI benefits.

When it comes to receiving SSI for a disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA), is going to base their aid given off of what is referred to as substantial gainful activity. While SSDI and certain disabilities such as blindness can alter the equation, substantial gainful activity, means you are working and making a sum total greater than $1,130 a month as of the year 2016. To apply for benefits, you cannot be making more than that amount, and in most cases there are trial work periods where you can make greater amounts than normal without losing benefits.

From there, it is necessary to know and understand how the benefits of your SSI are figured in order to see how much you can work. As of 2016, the SSA will pay an amount up to $733 for your SSI benefits which is calculated by the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is weighed against your countable income each month.

Your countable income is comprised of these sources:  

  • Primarily, any wage, hourly, salary, or commission paid to you by an employer or contractor, although some of it is not included. 
  • Any money you receive as support from friends and family, although, again, not all of your spouse’s earnings will be counted against you. 
  • All payments from other sources or benefits, such as veteran’s benefits, unemployment, severance, etc.
  • Lastly the value of free food or shelter given to you through charity.

When it comes to how much you can work and still receive benefits the formula comes down to this. The SSA excludes the initial $65 earned, ($85 if you have no unearned income), in addition to half of the remaining amount over $65/85 that you are paid each month. To make an easy example, if you make $1,265 a month, $65 is subtracted, and then half of that would be $600, which is then subtracted from the monthly SSI payment of $733 leaving you with the $1,265 a month, plus another $133 from the SSI benefits. The maximum you can make before your benefits are cut out entirely is $1,550 a month.

To learn more about how to apply for SSI or SSDI, explore the rest of our website today.

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