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Working While on Disability: How Much is Too Much in 2024?

Posted by James Aspell | Mar 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) aimed at providing financial aid to individuals who are disabled, elderly, or have low income. These programs play a crucial role in helping to alleviate some of the financial burdens that these individuals may face.

Nonetheless, the financial support provided by SSDI and SSI often falls short of covering all the expenses of beneficiaries, leading many to ponder the possibility of employment while receiving disability benefits. A common question among those receiving SSDI and SSI benefits is whether they can engage in some form of employment without forfeiting their monthly benefits.

The concise answer to this inquiry is affirmative. However, similar to the conditions applied when working under workers' compensation, there are distinct eligibility requirements and regulations associated with each program that beneficiaries must follow to ensure they continue to receive benefits while employed.

Working While Receiving Disability Benefits The SSA offers a variety of incentive programs for those on SSDI, aimed at facilitating their potential return to the workforce. These beneficiaries are given the opportunity to augment the financial assistance they receive from the SSA by earning additional income, all while retaining their monthly benefits.

Key programs include the Trial Work Period (TWP), the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), and the Ticket to Work Program, each with its own set of rules concerning allowable earnings, applicable deductions from net income, and criteria for ongoing eligibility. Further information on these programs is provided later in this document.

Earnings Potential While on SSDI in 2024 The earnings a person on SSDI can achieve without affecting their benefits are mainly dictated by the SSA's annually adjusted benchmark for Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Essentially, SGA sets a cap on earnings from employment; surpassing this cap can lead to disqualification from further SSDI benefits.

For instance, in 2024, the projected SGA earnings threshold is yet to be defined but follows the principle that there's a maximum allowable earning per month. To continue receiving SSDI benefits, an individual's earnings must not exceed this set threshold, with specific amounts varying based on the disability type.

Exceptions exist, such as participation in work programs, where the implications of SGA on SSDI benefits vary depending on the work incentive program enrolled in and whether the beneficiary has completed such a program before.

Another aspect to consider is the number of work hours while on disability, a topic we've explored in another article for your reference.

SSDI Trial Work Period (TWP) The TWP allows SSDI recipients to assess their capacity for work without losing their full SSA benefits. Eligibility for a TWP is open to all SSDI recipients provided they have not previously engaged in a TWP and have received 24 months of benefits, known as an Initial Reinstatement Period (IRP). For those already employed, the TWP offers a chance to earn without affecting their SSDI benefits over a nine-month period, within a five-year span.

The SSA determines eligible months for a TWP based on earnings exceeding the Trial Work Level (TWL), which was $970 in the previous year. This means that any month an individual earns more than the TWL, it counts toward their nine-month TWP allowance.

Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) After a TWP Upon completing a TWP, SSDI recipients enter a 36-month EPE, marking the first time their earnings may impact their SSDI benefits.

During the EPE, full SSDI benefits are provided for any month earnings fall below the SGA threshold, ensuring continued support while attempting to re-enter the workforce.

Working While on SSI Benefits SSI beneficiaries can work and still receive monthly benefits, provided their earnings and other income sources do not exceed the set SSI income limits, which include both the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and any state supplements.

Benefit reductions for SSI recipients are possible if earnings are within allowable limits but are calculated based on various types of income, including deemed, earned, in-kind, and unearned income. Understanding what constitutes income for SSI purposes is critical for maintaining eligibility.

Earnings Limit for SSI in 2024 The SSI earnings limits are determined by the FBR, with specific amounts for individuals and couples that dictate eligibility for benefits in a given month.

Additionally, the SSA employs an income disregard policy where the first $85 of monthly gross income does not affect benefits, but earnings above this amount reduce SSI benefits by $0.50 for every additional dollar earned.

SSDI and SSI Ticket to Work Program The Ticket to Work Program provides SSDI and SSI beneficiaries who are unable to perform their previous job duties access to free vocational training, education, and rehabilitation services, aiding their return to work.

Reporting Employment While on Disability Both SSDI and SSI recipients must report any work activity to the SSA, including start and stop dates, total monthly income, changes in work duties or hours, and any disability-related work expenses.

For further information on working while on Social Security Disability in Connecticut, contact the experienced SSD Appeal Lawyers at James F. Aspell, P.C.


About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...


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