Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

man sitting in wheelchairWhile it may be best known for retirement, Social Security is also here to help you get back to work if you are disabled. For millions of people, work isn’t just a source of income, it’s a vital part of who they are — it gives them purpose and pride — it’s a connection to community. If you’re getting Social Security disability benefits, we have good news for you. Social Security’s work incentives and Ticket to Work programs can help you if you’re interested in working. Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments.

The Ticket to Work program may help you if you’d like to work. You can receive:

  • Free vocational rehabilitation;
  • Training;
  • Job referrals; and
  • Other employment support.

You can read more about working while collecting disability benefits at our website.

Work incentives include:

  • Continued cash benefits for a time while you work;
  • Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and
  • Help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits or SSI, let us know right away when you start or stop working, or if any other change occurs that could affect your benefits.

If you returned to work, but you can’t continue working because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again — you may not have to file a new application.

You can learn more about the Ticket to Work program by reading Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.

Part of securing today and tomorrow is giving you the tools to create a fulfilling life. Getting back to work might be part of that. We’re here with a ticket to a secure tomorrow.

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480 thoughts on “Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

  1. I had to get a new ssi direct deposit card I even paid 14 dollars to get it here ASAP! Now there’s no way to activate it? Please help me !!

  2. in Santa Barbara office they are discriminate me they are lying and changing my document so they don’t pay me if you get loan to survive until you case approve they concert income the loan is income I got approve with m y disability but that office give me hard time to pay me because I speak up for my right and ask question the worker in that office MR Raya has discriminate me and giving me hard time over and over for ten year and I am sick they putting me under a lot off stress to deal with this office I am sick I do not have any more energy I am scik!!! what can I do ? help help I appeal for my back pay with in 60 day they have not send me any letter to confirm I go to internet to apply for appeal with judge in the web site they have block me why

  3. I have been looking every where on this site to find out how many hours a week i am allowed to work while recieving ssi benifits and I can not find the answer anywhere, please help.

    • Hi Shawna, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Social Security does have special rules called “work incentives” that can help you keep your disability benefits while you test your ability to work. There are different work incentives based on the type of disability benefit that you’re receiving. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. For more information about the ways we can help you return to work when receiving SSI, check out the SSI work incentives. We hope this helps.

    • Hi Lynette. You may want to apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $5,000 per year. To qualify for the Extra Help, a person must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in one of the 50 States or the District of Columbia. In addition to the Extra Help, you may be able to get help from your State with other Medicare costs under the Medicare Savings Programs. By completing the Extra Help application, you will start your application process for a Medicare Savings Program. We will send information to your State who will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program unless you tell us not to when you complete the application.

      If you need information about Medicare Savings Programs, Medicare Prescription Drug plans or how to enroll in a plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048) or visit http://www.medicare.gov. You also can request information about how to contact your State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP). The SHIP offers help with your Medicare questions. We hope this helps.

  4. I am collecting SSDI. I know that I can earn up to 1200.00 per month without losing benefits (as a 1099). I don’t earn that much. Am I eligible to file for unemployment because of Covid? I have lost work because of it. Thank you.

  5. If I am considered 100% disabled and I collect SSDI, if I wanted to try and go back to work how would that affect my benefits? What if after a few months I am then again unable to work, what would the process be?

    • Hi Sandra, thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2020, any month in which earnings exceed $910 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.

      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2020, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,260 in a month.

      Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

  6. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME WITH SOME INFORMATION??? I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU COULD ASAP!! 🙂 THIS IS SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME! #helpingothers
    If (for instance) someone who receives monthly SS Disability benefits/payments (for seizures) was interested in becoming a part-time Peer Support Specialist at their local Alcohol & Drug Abuse Center, can they do that without it messing up their benefits? It would not be a physically strenuous job, just as a Peer Support/Counselor and Sponsor type job. If that person WAS able to do so WITHOUT it messing up any or all benefits, then how much are they allowed by law to make monthly/yearly?
    And also, one more thing, I’m almost sure that there would be so many hours of some training classes involved & maybe some books. Would that person need to apply for a PASS application or any other type of program from SSA to help with the expenses of the books/material.
    I just want to help others who are in need of support or help where I know that I would be able to achieve that goal.

    • Hi Alicia, thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2020, any month in which earnings exceed $910 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.

      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2020, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,260 in a month.

      Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives, including a PASS Plan.

      • Vonda, Is substantial gainful activity imeasured in terms of GROSS or NET earnings, please? The SSDI literature does not specify. Thank you.

        • Hi RSC, thank you for using our blog. When reporting your wages, Social Security requires that you report your gross income — the amount you’ve earned before any deductions were taken from your paycheck. Social Security looks at gross income to determine whether you’re meeting or exceeding substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you receive SSDI and are still in your Trial Work Period (TWP), Social Security looks at your gross earnings to determine if you’ve used one of your TWP months. Check out our Ticket to Work Blog for more details.

  7. Hello, I have a question regarding covid19 and unemployment. I am receiving SSDI and also work part time earning approximately 100$ per week. Because of Covid 19 I am not working. Am I allowed to collect unemployment since I did work part time or is unemployment benefits never allowed if someone is on disability? And if I am allowed to receive unemployment and qualify for the additional $600 weekly of the federal money will that affect my SSDI monthly payment? Obviously the federal money alone would put me over the allowed amount I can earn monthly. Thank you

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