Working on Social Security Disability (SSD)
The first step of disability is called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If you are engaged in SGA, you are not disabled. SGA for 2018 is $1,180 per month. However, some work can be classified as an Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA). Work you have done will not show that you are able to do substantial gainful activity if, after you worked for a period of 6 months or less, your impairment forced you to stop working or to reduce the amount of work you do so that your earnings from such work fall below the substantial gainful activity earnings level. However, an “event” must precede an unsuccessful work attempt. There must be a significant break in the continuity of your work before SSA will consider that you began a work attempt that later proved unsuccessful. You must have stopped working or reduced your work and earnings below the substantial gainful activity earnings level because of your impairment or because of the removal of special conditions that were essential to the further performance of your work. SSA will consider your prior work to be “discontinued” for a significant period if you were out of work at least 30 consecutive days. We will also consider your prior work to be “discontinued” if, because of your impairment, you were forced to change to another type of work or another employer. In other words, you can’t have back to back Unsuccessful Work Attempts.
There is also a Trial Work Period. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided a trial work period for those already receiving disability benefits as incentive to return to work. The trial work period lasts for a total of nine months. During a trial work period, you will continue to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) payments as usual. During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. SSA will not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2017, any month in which earnings exceed $840 is considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. In 2018, this monthly amount increases to $850.
For SSI cases, if you currently have a monthly income, half of anything you earn over $85 per month will be deducted from the maximum amount of benefits in order to determine your SSI amount.