Can I Still Work If I’m on Disability in Austin?
Disability Attorney in Austin
Disability benefits from Social Security provide income to people in Texas who cannot work because of a disability. If you are receiving benefits but want to venture back into the workforce, it is important to tread carefully and make sure you do not jeopardize your eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Returning to work is possible, and your benefits may not be affected. The impact of a job will vary depending on what benefits you receive and how much you earn.
An experienced SSD lawyer can help you protect your disability benefits while you try to return to work. With offices in Austin and Waco*, The Bob Richardson Law Firm helps people throughout the surrounding area obtain – and keep – the full disability benefits they deserve.
Call us now or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to learn more.
Working While Receiving SSI Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two benefits programs for disabled individuals. SSI benefits provide disability benefits to individuals with few resources, regardless of whether they have ever worked. It is a means-tested program, meaning people with too much money or property don’t qualify.
The other program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is intended for people who have earned a sufficient number of work credits. Social Security Disability claimants may qualify for SSDI regardless of how much money they have or property they own.
Because SSI benefits are available only to individuals and families with very limited financial resources, working may affect your benefits. As of 2014, once your earnings exceed $85 per month, you will begin to lose $0.50 on each $1 earned over this amount. This means if you earned $90 per month at your job, you would lose $0.50 for each dollar of the $5 you earned for a total reduction in benefits of $2.50.
You may subtract qualified expenses from your monthly earnings from your job. If you spend $5 in transportation to get to work, the income from your $90 in earnings would actually be only $85 and your benefits would not be affected in this example.
The SSI benefits reduction makes it impossible to continue receiving benefits while earning any substantial amount of income. However, there is an expedited reinstatement period that lasts for five years after you begin working. If you start a job and your benefits stop, but it turns out you were too sick to work, the expedited reinstatement rules make it possible for you to resume benefits without having to reapply.
Working While Receiving SSDI Benefits
Can I have a lawyer represent me in applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income? SSDI benefits are earned based on work history and are not means-tested. As a result, the rules for working are very different. The SSA encourages SSDI recipients to try to reenter the workforce. It has created special rules for a “trial work period” that allow you to continue receiving benefits after you get a job.
The rules permit you to work for up to nine months within a rolling 60-month period before your benefits are affected. To count as a work month, you need to earn at least $770 per month (as of 2014). Expenses can be deducted when determining if you exceed the threshold.
If you do not exceed this amount, the month does not count as a work month. However, a month in which you work for at least 80 hours on your own business will count as one of the nine months.
After you have worked for nine months over a 60-month period, the trial work period ends and 36 months of “extended eligibility” begin. Within the extended-eligibility period, you may receive benefits for any month that you are not engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
As of 2014, you can earn up to $1,800 if you are blind – or up to $1,070 if you are not blind – before you are considered to be engaged in SGA. If you earn less than that during any month of the extended-eligibility period, you are paid SSDI benefits for that month.
The extended-eligibility period and trial work period both encourage you to take a job despite your disability since you don’t have to fear income loss. Once the extended-eligibility period ends, you are protected by a five-year expedited reinstatement period. Should you become unable to work again during those five years, your SSDI benefits should resume.
Questions about Working while on SSD? Talk to Our Lawyers Today
The many rules on working while getting disability benefits can be confusing. There is a lot at stake when you depend on disability benefits to get by. To make smart choices and protect your benefits, get help from a trusted legal adviser.
Contact The Bob Richardson Law Firm today. Our disability lawyer in Austin represent Social Security Disability claimants focus exclusively on Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases. They are members of the National Organization of Social Security Disability Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) and the Fifth Circuit Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (FOSSCR). We do not charge hourly fees up front.