Hey Holly: I recently was approved to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. Can I work part-time and still receive my benefits?
Sincerely, Newly Blind
Dear Newly Blind:
That’s a great question and one a lot of blind people ask if they are entitled to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. The answer is “Yes” but with strict limitations. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments will stop if you are engaged in what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity.” SGA, as it’s known, is defined in 2020 as earning more than $1,260 a month (or $2,110 if you are blind).
If your income exceeds those caps, you cannot collect disability benefits, unless you are taking part in one of Social Security’s “work incentives” — programs and trial periods aimed at helping SSDI recipients transition back into the workforce without sacrificing their benefits. Some work incentives are also available to recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is administered by Social Security and also provides benefits to people with disabilities.
The major such program is Ticket to Work, which offers people on SSDI and SSI with job training, work experiences, and other services to help them become self-supporting. The program waives the SGA earnings limits, so you continue collecting your disability benefits while you engage in trial work with employers who have signed up to participate. If you get a job through the program, you go off disability benefits. The benefits will resume if you have to stop working because your medical condition worsens.
SSDI beneficiaries are also allowed a trial period of up to nine months to test their ability to work. The trial months can be spread out over five years, and during these months you can get your full benefit regardless of your earnings. You’ll find more information on these and other work incentives in the Social Security publication “Working While Disabled — How We Can Help.”
Do you have a question about disabilities that you need answered? Email me at [email protected]