Can I Work and Still File For Social Security Disability Benefits?
In answer to this question, yes you can.
But, you need to be careful.
First, as long as you are not earning above what the Social Security Administration determines as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), then you may still work and receive disability benefits.
Without having to understand what SGA is, you just need to know the magic number: For 2017, if you are legally blind then you may earn up to $1,950.00 per month gross, and if you are not blind, then you may earn up to $1,170.00 gross.
You also need to understand the difference between gross and net. When the Social Security Administration allows you to work and still receive or apply for benefits, then you must know the gross amount of money you earn each month before taxes and any other deductions are withheld. If you go over the above amounts, then you could be placing your disability claim in jeopardy. Continue doing so, and your claim could be dismissed all together. Keep doing so, and you could find that the Social Security Administration will ask you to return any monies received if you are collecting benefits.
The is also another reason you need to understand SGA. For example, many people collect disability benefits in their early sixties, after they have paid into their own retirement or have substantial investments. Here, the determination could become quite tricky.
There is no arguing that if you are physically working at a job and earning a check and you are earning above the statutory limits, then you are engaging in SGA. But what about the average sixty-year-old who has investments that earn returns? Obviously, these are monthly and yearly earnings, but are they SGA?
Well, it depends.
For example, let's say there is a gentleman that is sixty years-old. He had a traumatic brain injury from a car accident. He worked all his life and made investments and those investments earn a return of $3,000 per month. He is claiming that due to a mental condition, he is no longer able to work. However, he mentally invests himself each month in trading stocks and bonds and increasing his investment portfolio. Is he earning above SGA? In all actuality, he is because he is using his mental capabilities to earn a living each month above SGA even though he is actually not employed by a company and going to work each and every morning.
Now, let's take the same gentleman, but he had a severe back impairment which causes him not to be able to sit a desk every day and work at any kind of job. He calls his broker from time to time and asks the broker to make some trades and he still has an income of $3,000 per month from his investments. Is he engaging in SGA? Possibly, but the likely answer is no, because he is maybe spending an hour or two per week reviewing his portfolio and having his broker actually make the trades, etc.
The point being here, is what is SGA for one person may not be for another. Second, if you are actually physically going to a job, you need to keep an eye on your gross amount each month. Remember, even if you are working part-time, those hours and the amount earned may easily go above SGA levels.
We hope this helps. We represent claimants throughout Texas and California fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. You can always call our office at: (888) 780-9125.