Disability, SSI

Working While Disabled — Social Security Can Help

August 2, 2018 • By

Last Updated: July 15, 2021

man sitting in wheelchair

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. We’re here to help you get back to work if you’re disabled.

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.
  • Other employment support.

You can read more about working while receiving disability benefits on our Ticket to Work Program page.

Work incentives include:

  • Continued cash benefits for a time while you work.
  • Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work.
  • 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. This is also important 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. Plus, you may not have to file a new application.

You can learn more about the Ticket to Work program by reading our publication, 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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. Diane

    If your recieving disability benifets and attempt to work a few hours a week does the FICA from paychecks increase your monthly disability payment?

    • Sue

      Hi, Diane. Thank you for reading our blog and asking your question. Each year we review your work record. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than one of the years we used to compute your disability benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. The automatic recalculation may not occur until later in the calendar year. If you are due an increase, we will send you a letter to notify you of your new benefit amount and pay you any increase retroactive to January of the year after you earned the money. For more details, see our Frequently Asked Questions web page.

      To avoid being overpaid, please let us know if you return to work and how much you are earning. You can report wages using the my Social Security online wage reporting tool or by calling or writing your local Social Security Office. We hope this information is helpful.

  2. Rick D.

    1260 is the limit, do you have to sign up for the extended period where you may go over? and that is per month right 1260? I may have to call in sick for the remainder of the month if I think I may go over. so confusing

    • Vonda

      Hi Rick, 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 2021, any month in which earnings exceed $940 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 2021, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,310 in a month.

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

  3. Paul J.

    in 2020 the bar was 910.00 a month that could be earned without counting it as a month. what is the amount that can be earned in 2021 that can be earned without counting it as a month?

    • Vonda

      Hi Paul, thanks for using or blog. It sounds like you’re asking about the Trial Work Period (TWP). 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 2021, any month in which earnings exceed $940 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 2021, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,310 in a month.

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

  4. Phillip W.

    I draw disability and SSI. Does the below still apply to me since drawing both?

    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.

    • Vonda

      Hi Phillip, thanks for using our blog. There are different work incentives based on the type of benefit that you’re receiving. Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives. We hope this helps!

  5. Amy D.

    I just to know the exact breakdown between starting work and by month can I make before SSDI takes my money away. I am planning on trying to get back to work atleast part time (20-25 hours a week). Please please explain to me because getting information from the office is…like pulling teeth. If you don’t like your job, give it to me….I’ll definitely appreciate it.

    • Vonda

      Hi Amy, thank you for using our blog. 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. Jack S.

    I am 65 years old and draw disability SS and wondering how much can I earn without affecting my benefits.

  7. Disabled W.

    Who do I contact if I need to tell Social Security that I started working again while receiving disability benefits? This is not explained at all and all of the offices are closed because of Covid-19

    • Vonda

      Hi there. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  8. Rusty C.

    The Edmond Oklahoma office is so rude and don’t look at anything, I have a mental illness that makes it where time doesn’t mean anything, ie 5 minutes is an hour to me. The only way I can work is wake up early THAT morning, write the time down, look at it again fives times and still average 5 minutes late! Part of being bipolar is manic episodes, when they occur my employee allows me to walk away, provide me with breaks, some employees work circles around me. Then they added a COVID bonus. The rules say when the money is earned, not when it is paid, the Edmond office, doesn’t care and will not change this illegal practice, they hate the job so bad, I’m actually afraid to go in there. One employee told me they are coming for everything I owned including all land and home. Thanks for helping a person with High anxiety And Bipolar disorder who wants to be working worse off. That’s a great thought for all. I have also been severally discriminated against by the way I dress. One day I had to stop by in sweat pants and another in a suit and tie because I had a job interview. So close to getting a job and getting on with the ticket to work but what good are rules if the SSA office in Edmond doesn’t even follow them as outlined in the Redbook. My appeal took less than a week, denied. No help at all a building with souless employees who hate people, they won’t even look you in the eye and are instantly aggressive and argumentative like there omnipotent or something!

    • Vonda

      We are sorry to hear about your experience, Rusty. You can submit feedback by visiting our Contact Social Security page. Once there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email A Question to our Support Team” form, where you can complete and submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion. We hope this helps.

  9. Michael G.

    Hi my name mike and i collect disability benefits
    My question is how much money will i be able to make and not lose my benefits

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Michael, 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.

      • Rob

        This is untrue for Illinois. There are no 36-months after the trail. They tell you you must stay under $900 other wise you will lose your disability they make it impossible for a disabled person to live. I receive very little on my SSDI I’m married and my husband is all so disabled by the courts as well. The judge knowingly approved his disability knowing this. Still yet our local office found him still disabled but stopped his benefits. He can’t work I’m unable to, I had to stop my Medicare due to this. It’s better not to work and sit at home don’t get married and live in shoebox because if someone gives you $1.00 they will count that as income and use it against you.

    • gail A.

      I was just looking o see how much money I would be able to get and work part time

  10. Allie

    If I am receiving SSDI and am earning 275 per week, what happens when I have 3 pay weeks in a month and it puts me over sga?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Allie, thanks for using our blog. 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.

      For specific questions regarding your work activity, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      • Traviw w.

        Dont EVER go over 1260 or current s.g.a or they will shut it off and you have to go through an i nvestigation i am doing it now it sucks. they will tell you to work with your employer to not work those weeks when there are more pay periods in a month. by by medical confidentiality.and your job.

        • Sean K.

          Hi. Maybe you can answer. Do es. SS. Consider “a month” as a calendar month or any 30 day period. Say you make more than 1260 oct 15th to nov 15th but make less than 1260 in both months? Thanks

          • Vonda

            Hi Sean, thanks for using our blog. We use calendar months. Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives. We hope this helps!

      • Robert A.

        While I understand this policy NOW it was never ever mentioned to me. I am disabled but was removed because SSA says I went of the amount allowable to earn. I DI NOT GO OVER THE ALLOWED AMOUNT. My case is under review but I’m going on 3 months with no income. What am I a disabled 64 year old supposed to do? I applied for retirement and now that money is being deferred to my supposed overpayment. THIS IS CRUEL at best. if covid doesn’t kill me homelessness will.

    • Ashley M.

      Wanted to know my daughter receives ssdi from her father being disabled she receives 299.00 a month wanted to know can she work a part time job being on disability?? If so how much can she work a month without her check being affected?

      • Vonda

        Hi Ashley, thanks for using our blog. If your daughter is receiving benefits as a minor child or a student on her father’s disability record, she can earn $18,960 in 2021. Visit our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

        If your daughter is an adult with a disability that began before age 22, check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

        See our factsheet on Benefits for Children for more information.

    • AJ

      I work part time and I have to plan ahead and take time off Not to go OVER.

Comments are closed.