Can I work and get disability benefits?
Work and get Social Security Disability benefits?
One of the most common questions on our forum is, Can a claimant work and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance? Like so many questions, there is not a simple answer.
To answer the question it is first necessary to understand what the Social Security Administration considers disabled. By definition, disabled to the Social Security Administration is the inability to work due for 12 continuous months to a disabling health condition. So the assumption made by the Social Security Administration is that if the claimant CAN work, they are by definition NOT disabled.
But can a claimant apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income and work part-time? It will depend on whether the work done by the claimant is substantial and gainful.
What is substantial work according to the Social Security Administration?
Substantial work, according to the Social Security Administration, is doing work that requires substantial or significant mental or physical effort. The work can be done without pay or profit, with limited responsibilities and part-time, but it may still be considered substantial.
Consider the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claimant who does not work for a company but who is doing childcare from their home. Although they may not make much money the physical, mental and social demands of the work could be considered substantial.
Effort that also may be considered substantial is attending school. Although it is not impossible to get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income and attend school, frequently the SSA will determine the effort to attend school (walk around campus, study long hours, carry a heavy backpack, focus in class for extended hours and socialize with peers) takes an effort that is comparable to some types of work.
What is gainful activity according to the Social Security Administration?
Whether work is gainful, according to the Social Security Administration, depends on the amount of money they are earning each month (after subtracting expenses related to work expenses). The SSA allows a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals and a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals.
Social Security Disability Insurance claimants who are blind can earn $1,690 per month in 2012 (this amount is periodically adjusted). Non-blind Social Security Disability Insurance claimants may earn $1,010 per month.
Keep in mind, although these are the established amounts for gainful activity the Social Security Administration can consider some activities or work gainful even if the Social Security Disability Insurance claimant does not receive a profit.
The Social Security Administrations can consider all of the following types of work gainful:
Any work performed or done for pay or profit.
Work which normally receives pay or profit
Work which is intended for profit even if profit is not realized
Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance laimants who wished to work and apply for disability benefits will have a more difficult time proving that they are disabled. SSA examiners and administrative judges are notorious for assuming that if a claimant can work 20 hours per week they might could work a bit more. Is this fair or right? Probably not, but this is how the system currently works.
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- Steps to get Social Security Administration Disability Benefits (disabilitybenefitshome.com)