At Disability Advocates Group, our practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of disabled individuals throughout Southern California. If you are seeking disability benefits, you may be wondering whether you can receive benefits while working part-time. Depending on the circumstances, working part-time while on disability may affect your benefit status. The best way to protect your rights is to consult our experienced disability lawyers. 

What is a disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as having a qualifying medical condition that prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is work that provides a certain amount of income each month. For 2020, the SGA is $1,260 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,110 per month for blind individuals. 

Applying for Disability Benefits While Working Part-Time 

If you are working when you apply for disability benefits and you earn over the SGA limit, your application will likely be denied. In addition, earning lower than the SGA amount does not necessarily mean that you are eligible for benefits. Social Security will not only consider your monthly earnings but the type of work and the number of hours you work.

As an example, if you make less than $1,260 per month but work 30 hours per week, a disability examiner may determine that you are not disabled or that you are working part-time because you cannot find full-time work, not because of a medical condition.

On the other hand, earning a high wage does not necessarily mean that you are performing substantial gainful activity. If your employer provides special conditions that allow you to work, for example, the cost of any impairment-related expenses can be deducted from your earnings to determine your monthly amount.

Additionally, if you quit your job before you apply for disability benefits, you must be able to demonstrate that you left because your medical condition worsened, not because you wanted to meet the SGA requirement. Moreover, certain volunteer activities may indicate that you are able to perform some type of work, which may make you ineligible for disability benefits. 

Finally, if you can’t perform work on a full-time basis, but your regular was part-time, and Social Security determines that you can still perform this work, your claim may be denied. If you cannot perform this type of work, the SSA will also consider whether you can perform another type of full-time work. 

As you can see, working part-time while applying for disability benefits runs the risk of having your claim denied. For this reason, it is crucial to consult an experienced disability lawyer before submitting a benefits application.

What is the most hours you can work on disability?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets a general standard of 40 hours per week as full-time employment, but it also allows for flexible work arrangements and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Ultimately, the determination of appropriate work hours for someone with a disability should be made through an individualized assessment and in consultation with medical professionals or rehabilitation specialists.

Working Part-Time After You’re Receiving Disability Benefits

Although disability benefits are not available to those who earn more than the SGA amount, the SSA provides incentives that allow beneficiaries to return to work without jeopardizing their benefits. For example, SSDI beneficiaries are allowed a trial period of up to 9 months during which they can still receive their benefits while testing their ability to work. The trial months need not be consecutive and can be spread out over 5 years. During the trial period, the full benefit is paid regardless of earnings. 

Another incentive is known as the “Ticket to Work” program which is available to both SSDI and SSI beneficiaries. The program allows beneficiaries to engage in trial work with participating employers and continue collecting their disability benefits. The Ticket to Work program also waives the SGA earning limits. If a beneficiary finds a job through the program the benefits will end; benefits will resume if a beneficiary must stop working because the condition has worsened, however. 

Contact Los Angeles Disability Attorney

If you or a loved one needs help obtaining disability benefits, there may be opportunities to work part-time, however, the SGA income limits can be complicated and confusing. By working with Disability Advocates Group, you increase the likelihood of obtaining the benefits you deserve. Once you begin receiving disability benefits, we will provide you with ongoing counsel to make sure your rights are protected. Although obtaining and maintaining your eligibility for benefits is challenging, we will stand by you every step of the way. Please contact our office today to speak with our experienced disability lawyers.