How Much Can I Earn in 2020 & Not Lose Social Security Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Disability Program (SSD or SSDI), however, pays benefits to disabled workers who have paid Social Security taxes over a sufficiently long period of time, and the benefits amount is based on the worker’s earnings record. Social Security Disability benefits provides a monthly income of 8.4 million dollars to disabled workers – and approximately 1.6 million dollars to the spouses and children of disabled workers. The Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) pays monthly benefits to people with low/limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older.
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is only available to people who can no longer work due to an established disability AND have paid taxes into the Social Security system. If approved for benefits, the monthly SSDI payment amount will be determined by their earnings records. Currently, the average Social Security Disability benefit is $1,165. (2015).
Annually, the SSA updates the “monthly earning thresholds” – which is how much disabled workers can earn without losing their Social Security Disability benefits. In this article our Social Security Disability attorneys discuss how much a disabled individual can earn in 2020, without jeopardizing their Social Security Disability Benefits.
Social Security Disability Earning Limits
There is a limit on the amount of money that you can earn through work when you receive Social Security Disability benefits. The reason behind this is simple: if you can earn an income, you aren’t considered disabled anymore.
However – unlike the SSI benefits for low income people – the SSDI program does NOT put any limit on the amount of assets or unearned income you have. Similarly, SSD does not look at your spouse’s income when determining your Social Security Disability benefits.
In other words, while a disabled (non-blind) person applying for or receiving SSDI cannot earn more than $1,090 per month by working, a person collecting SSDI can have any amount of income from investments, interest, or a spouse’s income.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
However, if you can engage in what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), you won’t be eligible for SSD benefits.
In 2019, a (non-blind) Social Security Disability beneficiary could earn up to $1,220 a month without losing their monthly benefit. And blind Social Security Disability recipients could earn up to $2,040 without having their benefits terminated.
In 2020, non-blind Social Security Disability recipients can now earn up to $1,260 per month ($40 more a month) without losing benefits. And blind Social Security Disability beneficiaries can earn up to $2,110 per month ($70 more) before their SSDI benefits would be stopped.
Note that the rules differ somewhat for business owners, since their monthly income may not accurately reflect the work effort they put into their business.
Trial Work Period for Social Security Disability
Sometimes a person receiving Social Security Disability may start to improve and want to try returning to the workforce – but they may be afraid that they will be unable to keep a job because of their disabilities. The SSA – in order to try and encourage disabled people to try to return to work – allows a “trial work period”. During this period, a person receiving SSDI may have unlimited earnings during a limited period and still receive full benefits without risking termination of Social Security Disability benefits.
The trial work period allows the person to provide services for at least nine months – out of a rolling 60-month period – before their disability benefits will be terminated. Then, disability benefits will continue for three months and then stop.
In 2019, if monthly earnings exceeded $880 it was considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. In 2020, this amount increases and if if monthly earnings exceed $910 it will be considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. (Note that this amount is different than the SGA amount.) However, benefits can resume within the next 36 months if the individual fails to earn the monthly SGA amount or becomes unable to work again due to the same disability.
Calculating “trial work periods” can be complicated and confusing. Our lawyers can help you with this calculation if you are collecting Social Security Disability and considering returning to work.
If you are collecting Social Security Disability – or you are considering applying for Social Security Disability – and you are uncertain about how much you can earn, our experienced Social Security lawyers are happy to answer your questions. Call our attorneys today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation!
Call our Social Security Lawyers for a FREE CONSULTATION: 562-622-4800.