How Much Can I Earn & Not Lose My Social Security Disability?

How Much Can I Earn Without Losing My Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits are only given to people who can no longer work due to disability IF they have paid enough taxes into the Social Security system through FICA. The amount of benefits they will receive will depend on their “earnings records”.

In 2017, the average Social Security Disability benefit is around $1,171 per month. But a person can collect up to a maximum SSDB benefit of $2,687 – if they have enough work credits.

People with low income who are disabled, but do not qualify for SSD, may qualify for Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI).

Social Security Disability Income Limits

The Social Security Administration puts a limit on the amount of money that you can earn through any type of employment and still be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. The reason behind this rule is that if you can earn enough income to support yourself, you aren’t considered disabled.

In this article our Long Beach attorneys explain how much you can make and not lose your Social Security Disability Benefits.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and Social Security Disability

If you can engage in what the Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), you are no longer eligible to collect Social Security disability benefits.

A dollar amount called the “national average wage index” is used to determine the Substantial Gainful Activity amount for each year. This amount typically changes every year.

The 2017 Social Security Disability “Substantial Gainful Activity” limits are:
$1,150.00/month for disabled applicants;
$ 1,950.00/months for blind applicants.

In other words, in 2017 a disabled person can earn up to $1,150.00 per month and not lose their Social Security Disability benefits. And a blind person can earn up to $1,150.00 per month and not lose their Social Security Disability benefits.

No Limit on Assets You Can Have to Collect Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability does NOT put any limit on the amount of assets you can have and still collect SSD. Social Security Disability also does not put a limit on the “unearned income” you collect – such as income from investments. The SSA also does not look at a spouse’s income when determining if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Remember, we are talking about Social Security Disability (SSD). Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) for low income people are limited by income and/or assets and/or “unearned” income from investments and/or a spouse’s income.

Trial Work Period and Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to encourage disabled people to at least try to return to work – the SSA allows a “trial work period” for people receiving Social Security Disability. During the Trial work Period, a person receiving SSD can actually have unlimited earnings during the limited trial period – without immediately jeopardizing their full SSD benefits.

A person returning to work can “provide services” for at least nine months – out of a total of 5 years period – before their disability benefits will be terminated. After which disability benefits will continue for three months and then stop. Note that any month during this time in which earnings exceed $840 is considered a month of providing services.

Once a person has used up nine trial work months during any five-year period, they are not entitled to any more trial work periods. But SSD benefits can be reinstated within the next 36 months if the individual fails to earn the monthly SGA amount or if he or she returns to work and then is unable to work again due to the same qualifying disability.

Also note that the calculations for self-employed individuals are somewhat different than these figures.

Long Beach Social Security Disability Attorneys

If you are collecting Social Security Disability – or you are considering applying for Social Security Disability – and you would like to know how much you can earn, our experienced Long Beach Social Security attorneys are happy to answer your questions. Call our attorneys today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation!

Long Beach Social Security Disability Attorneys
Free Consultation:  562-622-4800