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SSDI - Can I work from home if approved?

SSDI and Work from Home

Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask if they were able to work from home after they are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This type of question only comes from applicants who don’t quite understand how the SSDI program works or when the Social Security Administration will consider them disabled.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is only paid to workers who have a severe health condition which does not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. If you can work too much or make too much money then you are automatically NOT disabled, according to the SSA.

Why can’t I work from home?

If you are working while you apply for SSDI and making more than $1,010 (for the non-blind) or $1,690 (for the statutorily blind) then your SSDI case will be automatically denied. It will not matter if you are sitting at home typing on your computer or whether you are operating a fork lift. The SSA will consider you NOT disabled, and they will not review your case or pull your medical records.

What if you are working at home full-time but making less than $1,010? According to the SSA it will not matter. Your work does not have to be gainful to be considered work and work may not have to be “full-time.” What the SSA considers “substantial” seems to be a bit more nebulous. Estimates vary from 15 to 25 hours per week, but the bottom line is if you are working too much, even if your work is not generating a profit, it could be considered “substantial” and you could be automatically denied SSDI benefits.

Can I start working from home after I’m approved for SSDI?

Other workers apply for SSDI and are not currently working but plan to start working from home after they get their SSDI benefits. As mentioned above, if you can work and you choose not to or you get SSDI benefits but start back to work, if you do not notify the SSA but keep taking the disability benefit, not only are you likely to eventually owe the SSA money, this is also considered fraud.

Consider what I mentioned above. The SSA does not care whether your work is done from your house or not. If you are getting SSDI then you are supposed to be disabled. Which by definition means you CANNOT WORK too much.

How much work can I do after I am approved?

One of the most common questions asked by disability recipients is, “How much work can I do and still get SSDI?” This is tough to answer. The SSA does have a program which allows you to attempt to return to work while continuing to receive SSDI for a specified time period. The program is called the Ticket to Work program, but it is recommended that you discuss the program with the SSA prior to starting to work.

So how does the Ticket Program work? The program allows you to earn up to $720 in gross earnings or you can be self-employed and work a minimum of 80 hours per month working in your own business without triggering a “trial work month.”  If you make $720 you will trigger a trial work month, and you are limited to nine work months within a rolling 60-month period. Claimants will still get a monthly SSDI disability check from the SSA during the trial work period, but they must report their work to the SSA and continue to suffer from a disabling condition.

If you work and use up your trial work period you have an additional 36 months of work eligibility, as long as your earnings are not “substantial.” If you have substantial earnings or pass the extended 36 month period you will have your SSDI benefits terminated.
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