The average wait time for a Social Security disability hearing is roughly 14 months. This is not even taking into consideration the year (or more) to initially file the claim and the reconsideration (first appeal).
Unless there is a spouse working or you are independently wealthy, it is impossible to wait 2 or more years to receive benefits. Further, many people who do file for disability benefits may be capable of working at least part time. Remember, disability is determined on a full time work schedule.
However, how much can you actually earn and still be eligible for benefits?
This question can become quite complicated, but let's just get the initial numbers:
First, if you are filing for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits, then you cannot gross more than $1,130.00 in any given month or you may risk being disqualified.
Second, if you are filing for only SSI (Supplemental Security Income), then you cannot gross more than $733.00 per month and you cannot have more than $1,100.00 in household income. The reason for for this additional restriction is that SSI is simply welfare. If approved, you are basically living at or below the established poverty level.
What happens to many claimants while waiting for their hearing is that they become so desperate for food, clothing, and shelter, they will do just about anything to keep a roof over their head or feed their family. Especially in states like Texas, welfare benefits for those who are unable to work are quite scarce. Medicaid is unavailable without Social Security disability approval unless there is a young child within the home. Therefore, many people who are physically or mentally unfit to work must return back to some type of low-paying job just to have food and minimal shelter.
If you do have to work, here are some things you can do while waiting for your Social Security disability to be approved:
1. Make sure which kind of benefits you qualify for. If you do not have the required number of work credits to qualify for SSDI, then make sure you stay under the wage or household limits for SSI.
2. Don't know which benefits you qualify for? Go to your local Social Security office and have them look up your work history. You will then be able to tell whether or not you can earn more or less than $733.00 per month.
3. Don't lose track of your hours if you have to work. Many people are paid by the week and lose track of their gross pay during a full month. If you can only qualify for SSI and you're getting paid $200 per week gross, then you are going to be disqualified from receiving benefits. It's very easy to go over $200.00 per week and lose track of your total gross pay for the month.
4. Be honest in your hearing if asked by the judge if you are working. Most, if not all judges, realize most claimants are doing something to earn money. We all have to eat, we all have to have shelter. These are basic human needs.
5. Don't give up. Eventually your hearing date will come. Although, the hearing dates have seemed to grow longer over the past year or so. But, if you stop and start over, you will lose valuable time, back pay, and your original onset date. So, stick it out as long as your possibly can.