Work how can I quit while waiting for disability benefits?Recently I was discussing a case with a disability applicant and he asked me a question, The SSA told me I cannot work and perform substantial gainful activity while I apply for SSDI benefits, but how can I stop working if I have no other income?
Can I work and apply for SSDI benefits?
This is a tough question, and it basically boils down to how the Social Security Administration makes their disability determination. The reasoning goes like this: a disabled claimant is one who has a mental or physical health condition which is so severe that they cannot work and perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months. If you are able to work at this level, however, this means you are not disabled.
So, with this in mind, the Social Security Administration automatically denies any claimant who applies for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI benefits while they are working substantial gainful activity because, by definition, they cannot be disabled.
Unfortunately, this is no help to the claimant who has been struggling to work every day and feels like they have no other options but to apply for SSDI benefits.
Options while you wait for SSDI benefits
So what are your options? If you want to apply for SSDI benefits you will have stop working and making too much money. For non-blind individuals, in 2015, this means you can make up to $1090 per month. But that is only part of the consideration. Although gainful work is defined by the amount of money you make, the SSA will also consider whether you work is substantial.
For instance, if you are able to work 40 hours per week, even if you are making less than $1090 per month, the SSA can consider this full-time, substantial work and deny your SSDI claim.
So how many hours can you work? This is not always perfectly clear. In some cases, if you are working part-time the SSA may decide you are disabled, assuming you are not earning too much money. Other times the SSA may decide you could work just a few more hours and deny your SSDI claim.
With this in mind, most disability claimants either decide to work VERY part-time when they apply for SSDI benefits, or they stop working altogether.
Do I have to quit work for 12 months before I apply?
Another misconception SSDI applicants sometimes have is that they have to stop working for 12 months before they can apply for benefits. This is not true. Although your condition has to be expected to last 12 continuous months, you should apply for SSDI benefits as soon as you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity. Keep in mind; however, there is a five month waiting period to receive SSDI benefits regardless of when you apply.
Do I need a lawyer?
Disability applicants are denied SSDI at extremely high rates. Having a lawyer may help your case at every level in the disability process.