Can I Work Part-Time and Still Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The simple answer to the question is yes; however, this statement can be very misleading if you don’t have a good understanding of Social Security standards on this topic.  The fact is, if you make more than the maximum allowed for longer than the time frame specified, you will become ineligible for disability benefits.  And, unfortunately, the maximum allowed is not very much.

work-part-time-disability-benefitsThe maximum monthly earnings is $1,070 ($1,800 if you are blind), while working a “typical” job.  These amounts are called “substantial gainful activity” or “SGA”, which is work for wages or salary.   Any additional monies you earn from the following are not calculated with regular wages or salary for SGA.

  • Interest
  • Rent
  • Child Support
  • Food Assistance
  • Investment Income
  • Non-Competitive Work (working for family members or working in a sheltered environment where job requirements are adapted specifically for disabled individuals)

The length of time you are able to work is another standard.  If you have worked six months or more consecutively, Social Security will generally consider this proof that you are able to work.  If you work for a few weeks or months but lose your job or quit because you are unable to perform the job duties, Social Security will usually consider this an “unsuccessful work attempt.”

Having a documented history of trying to work, but not being able to continue long-term will often times help your case.  It is always good to ensure you and/or your employer(s) are documenting your problems on the job, especially excessive absenteeism due to health related issues.

Your impairment and/or limitations will not dissuade Social Security from denying your claim if you exceed the thresholds for monetary gain or length of time mentioned above.  If you demonstrate that you are able to work – even a part-time job – and have earning potential above and beyond the maximums, it is unlikely you will be awarded disability.

If you are working but not earning an amount over $1,070 a month because your employer will not schedule you for more hours, or you attempt to make arrangements to work less than you currently work in order to earn less than the maximum SGA, either will almost always disqualify you from being a candidate for disability.

Social Security’s goal is to award disability to those that are truly incapable of earning a living due to severe pain or physical and/or mental disability that prevents them from successfully holding any position in the work force.  The rare cases where it does work are those where your work is being done in great pain that you are enduring because of family obligations or lack of other means of survival.

Many of our clients ask, “Should I quit my job to apply for disability?”  Our standard advice is as follows:

  • If you can work full-time or close to it, you are better off working than applying for Social Security Disability.
  • People who are working while disabled and have noticed their ability to continue is starting to significantly decline, or have been told by their employer and/or doctor that they will not be able to continue working due to an impairment should definitely consider ending employment and applying for disability.

To find out more about filing for Social Security Disability, contact one of the experienced Colorado Social Security Lawyers at McDivitt Law Firm. You may reach us toll free at (877) 846-4878, or request a free case evaluation. Your initial consultation is absolutely free, and you don’t owe us any fee until we collect money for you.

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