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SSDI Benefits Eligibility

In this article:
Income limitations for SSDI | Resource Limitations for SSDI | What will affect my SSDI payment?

Although claimants who are working and making too much money will not qualify for disability benefits, it is possible for SSDI recipients to have unearned income and resources and qualify for SSDI benefits.

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Income limitations for SSDI

Claimants who are performing substantial gainful activity, which is in 2013, is making $1,040 (non-blind disabled applicants), and $1,740 for blind applicant are considered fully engaged in work and will be automatically denied SSDI benefits. This limitation, however, does not apply to a spouse. For example, if your spouse is working and making $10,000 per month, you may still be considered disabled and qualify for SSDI benefits. You may also have any amount of "unearned" income from investments and interest and qualify for SSDI.

Resource Limitations for SSDI

Unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which limits an individual and couples resource level, SSDI does not have any resource limitations. Individuals may qualify for SSDI benefits regardless of the amount of houses, cars, investments or rental property they own.

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What will affect my SSDI payment?

Although disability payments from private sources will not reduce your SSDI payment, if you receive workers' compensation or other public disability benefits (including temporary disability benefits or government retirement benefits that are based on disability), SSDI can be reduced. How much? The total amount of your benefits cannot exceed 80% of your average current earnings before you became disabled.

For example, let's say you became disabled and your average current earnings were $4,000 a month prior to your injury. Now, let's assume you, your spouse and your two children would be eligible to receive a total of $2,200 a month in SSDI benefits. If you were also receiving $2,000 a month from workers' compensation the total amount, before a reduction, would be $4,200.

According to the current requirements your monthly benefit cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings of $3,200 per month. Given this, the SSA will reduce your SSDI benefit by $1,000. This reduction will continue until you reach 65 years of age or your other benefits are terminated, or the earlier of the two. Contact the SSA if you have questions about how they calculate your average current earnings. (Example provided by the SSA)

If payment amounts for any additional disability benefits are increased or decreased this change should be reported to the SSA. Overpayment for SSDI benefits will have to be repaid to the Social Security Administration.

Death, marriage and divorce

Unlike SSI, which can be reduced, eliminated, or offset by the income of other family members such as a spouse, SSDI is based on your work record and is not impacted by a death of a spouse, by an increase in your spouse's earnings or by divorce.