If you are disabled, it is possible to work while applying for Social Security disability or while already receiving payments, but rules and limitations apply. Ultimately, you must be determined eligible for disability benefits if you are to be successful in your claim.
You can test your ability to work in spite of a disability for a nine-month trial period. The Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages people with disabilities to find gainful employment. Therefore, if you are trying to work, you can get full benefit payments regardless of your income for any nine months in a five-year period. The nine months do not need to be consecutive.
After the trial period, you can continue to receive benefits if you earn less than $1,000 per month. You can deduct disability-related work expenses, including medications, transportation and specialized work equipment, if your total earnings exceed $1,000 per month. The SSA only considers wages, so other assets do not apply when you are being considered for benefits.
There are exceptions and additional rules for some workers. The SSA raises the cap to $1,640 per month for workers who are blind. Similarly, those under 22 who are attending school or a vocational training program may earn up to $1,640 per month and still receive full benefits.
Even if your wages exceed the limit, your application and data will remain on file with the SSA for at least five years. During those five years, you can restart your benefits immediately if your disability later prevents you from working.
You must report your earnings each month to the Social Security Administration, either by phone, in writing or in person at your local SSA office.
Finally, if the SSA decides to stop your disability payments, you have the right to appeal its decision and continue receiving benefits throughout the appeals process.