Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) exists to help people who are no longer able to work full-time because of a medical condition. However, SSDI monthly benefits generally give claimants only a minimum income. Luckily, there are ways to supplement SSDI income without being penalized or losing benefits entirely, but it has to be done carefully.
You can have part-time employment as long as your wages don’t exceed what SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” ($1,350 per month for 2022, or $2,260 per month if you are blind). The limits change every year with the cost of living and the cutoff is very strict. If earnings are greater than the limit, you will have to refund the SSA for the benefits received. Plus, any work you do could cause the SSA to do review your case to see if you are still disabled.
If your condition has improved and you are thinking of going back to work, the SSA will let you try a “trial work period,” where you can continue SSDI benefits for up to nine months while working, regardless of how much you earn.
There is also the “Ticket to Work,” program, which provides job training, work experiences and other services. Typically, you keep your benefits in these programs, and if you get a job at the end of the training period, your benefits will end. If your medical condition worsens and you quit working, your benefits will be reinstated.
We caution our clients to think carefully about working while receiving benefits. Look for the SSA’s brochure, “Working While Disabled — How We Can Help,” or check with us at jeffreyfreedman.com before you decide.