Income Limits For Social Security Disability Insurance

March 8, 2016

Social Security Disability Insurance is a godsend to those who can no longer work due to an established disability. While SSDI is a good thing, there are strict rules about earning income while collecting disability insurance. While there are no limits for unearned income (from investments, interest, or spousal earning), there are strict earned income limits.

Substantial Gainful Activity

The Social Security Administration defines Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) as work that results in payment about a certain limit. The limits are calculated annually, and are determined by economic factors. The 2016 SGA limit is $1,130 for disabled applicants and $1,820 for blind applicants.

Applicants who work and make more than the SGA limit can be disqualified for benefits, but the SSA recognizes that it takes more than a month to determine income. There are mitigating factors that determine how and when disability benefits will stop being paid. According to NOLO, those receiving disability benefits can argue that their earnings would have been lower if the applicant:

  • Required special assistance from other employees in performing the work
  • Was allowed to work irregular hours or take frequent rest breaks
  • Was provided with special equipment or assigned work especially suited to his or her impairment
  • Was able to work only because of specially arranged circumstances (for example, other people helped the claimant get to and from work)
  • Was permitted to work at a lower standard of productivity or efficiency than other employees, and/or
  • Was given the opportunity to work despite his impairment because of a family relationship, past association with the employer, or the employer’s concern for the claimant’s welfare.

Trial work period

In addition, the SSA allows those receiving benefits to attempt to return to the work force by providing a Trial Work Period (TWP). During a TWP, anyone receiving disability benefits is able to have unlimited earnings without risking termination. Those receiving benefits often find that the rigors of the workplace are too demanding. As long as work does not continue for longer than 9 months in a rolling 60-month period, the worker will still be entitled to full disability benefits.

If you or someone you know is receiving SSDI benefits, you may have questions about returning to work. For more information, contact the experienced Philadelphia Social Security Disability Insurance lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates. We serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.