If I Work a Little, Can I Still Receive SSD Benefits?
You know that Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are for people with severe health problems that limit their ability to work and earn an income.
And what a difference they can make. The monthly checks and access to Medicare health care coverage can be one of the main things that keeps you going.
But you might have to wait a while to get disability benefits. And God knows money is tight right now.
So can you work just a little and still qualify for SSD benefits?
The simple answer is yes.
But it’s not so simple.
You need to be careful, because working and earning too much will disqualify you for benefits.
At Levine Benjamin Law Firm, we’ve helped over 80,000 people in Detroit, Toledo, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids and all over Michigan or Ohio. We’ve seen what works and doesn’t work when you’re applying for disability benefits.
On this page, we’ll go over what you can and can’t do—when it comes to working—when you’re trying to get Social Security Disability.
From applying to appealing, we help you every step of the way.
What would you like to do?
How Much Can I Work and Still Get Social Security Disability?
Social Security has a name for the amount of work that is too much to qualify for disability benefits.
It’s called “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA.
And how much is SGA?
The number changes every year with cost-of-living adjustments. Here are some examples:
- Substantial gainful activity in 2021: $1,310 per month
- Substantial gainful activity in 2022: $1,350 per month
- Substantial gainful activity in 2023: $1,470 per month
Social Security allows people with blindness to earn more while still qualifying for disability benefits:
- SGA for people with blindness in 2021: $2,190 per month
- SGA for people with blindness in 2022: $2,260 per month
- SGA for people with blindness in 2023: $2,460 per month
The idea behind allowing people with visual impairments to work and earn more is that people with blindness may face greater difficulty finding and maintaining solid employment than people with other disabilities.
Even if you think you can keep your earnings under these amounts, you need to be careful if you want to win Social Security Disability benefits.
The reason Social Security Disability benefits exist is to help people who can’t work because of health problems when they’re too young for Social Security retirement benefits.
Some disability claims examiners or disability judges could see your work, even if it’s part time or limited hours, as a sign that you may be able to work more—enough that you don’t need benefits.
Talk to a disability lawyer about your situation. An experienced attorney can review how your work may affect your disability benefits application.
Will I Lose My Social Security Disability Benefits if I Try to Return to Work?
Social Security lets you try to work first before it cuts off your disability benefits.
When you’ve been able to work substantial amounts for at least nine months during a 60-month period, that’s when Social Security decides your disability has ended, and so should your benefits.
As of 2023, any month when you make $1,050 or more counts as a month in a “trial work period.”
You should know this: you need to be open and honest with Social Security about attempts at working and any new income you are earning.
Hiding or manipulating information about your work and earnings could threaten your benefits.
You can also hold on to your Social Security Disability benefits if you attempt to work but have to stop in less than six months, or your hours and earnings get reduced below SGA levels because of your health, or if your employer stops providing special accommodations that allow you to work.
Social Security calls this an “unsuccessful work attempt.” And it won’t necessarily hold the attempt against you. Having to stop working again, after all, may just further show how you’re unable to work.
Whether you’re applying for benefits, fighting a denial of benefits, or receiving benefits but dealing with Social Security trying to terminate them, the disability attorneys at Levine Benjamin can help you.
We work with the Social Security system every day, helping with health disruptions to their incomes restore stability and peace.