Will I Lose My Disability if I Work Part-Time (What to Know)

Will I lose my disability if I work part-time? Discover how work affects your disability benefits and the rules for working part-time.

You might be wondering if it’s possible to work part-time and still retain your disability benefits. Understanding the guidelines is crucial for making informed decisions about returning to work, assessing your ability to work, and maintaining financial stability. Continue reading to explore the work programs available for recipients of disability benefits.

Will I Lose My Disability Benefits if I Work Part-Time?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) generally provides benefits to individuals who cannot work due to a severe disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has work incentive programs, such as the Trial Work Period and the Extended Period of Eligibility, which allow individuals to test their ability to work without immediately losing benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that considers income and resources when determining eligibility, so working and earning income may affect the amount of SSI benefits you receive.

Can You Work Part-Time While on Disability?

Yes, it is possible to work part-time while receiving disability benefits, whether through SSDI or SSI, as there are several programs that encourage part-time employment while still maintaining disability benefits.

The Rules for Working While on SSDI

The rules regarding working while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are designed to provide individuals with opportunities to test their ability to work without immediately losing their benefits. The rules for working vary depending on the part-time work program you choose to utilize.

Navigating Work Incentive Programs

Trial Work Period (TWP)

The Trial Work Period (TWP) is a provision within the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program that allows recipients to work for up to nine months (not necessarily consecutive) within a rolling 60-month period. During this time, there is no limit on the amount of earnings a person can have. Individuals can continue to receive their full SSDI benefits during the Trial Work Period, regardless of their earnings. This allows them to test their ability to work without immediately losing financial support.

Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)

The Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) is another provision within the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. It follows the Trial Work Period (TWP) and is designed to help individuals transition back to work gradually while still maintaining access to their disability benefits. During the Extended Period of Eligibility, individuals can continue to receive SSDI benefits for any month in which their earnings are not considered “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).

Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program is a voluntary initiative aimed at helping Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients return to work and achieve financial independence. Participation in the Ticket to Work program is entirely voluntary, and individuals can choose whether or not to use their “ticket” to access services and support offered through the program.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWEs)

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) are certain costs associated with a disability that individuals with disabilities may incur when working. These expenses are allowable deductions when determining an individual’s countable income for the purpose of disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

The Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is designed to help Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with disabilities pursue vocational goals and achieve financial independence. The PASS program allows individuals to set aside income and resources for a specific work goal without those funds being counted as income or resources when determining SSI eligibility and payment amounts.

Student Earned-Income Exclusion (SEIE)

The Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) is a provision that allows certain students to earn income without having it count against their SSI benefits. The SEIE is designed to encourage students with disabilities to work while pursuing an education without risking a reduction in their SSI payments.

Also Read: Can You Work While on Disability? (Top Things to Know)

How to Preserve Your Disability Benefits

Report Your Part-Time Work and Earnings to the SSA

Always make sure to report income changes to the Social Security Administration to ensure that your income is accurately calculated for program eligibility.

Work Below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Limit

Ensure that your earnings do not exceed the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount, which for 2024 is $1,550 (gross income per month)

Use Work Incentive Programs Effectively

Understand the rules of the work incentive programs before returning to work to avoid risking the loss of your disability benefits.

Document Impairment-Related Work Expenses

Keep all relevant receipts for impairment-related work expenses to support your case.

Hire a Disability Lawyer to Advocate on Your Behalf

An attorney can assist you in finding the right part-time work SSA program for your specific circumstances. They can also help with social security disability application assistance.

Don’t Risk Losing Your Disability Benefits!

If you were represented by an attorney in your initial award of disability benefits, you should definitely call your attorney to see which program might be right for you if you want to try to go back to work.

FAQ: Disability and Working Part-Time

What Is a Work Incentive?

A work incentive is a government program feature designed to encourage and support individuals with disabilities in pursuing employment while still receiving disability benefits. Work incentives aim to remove barriers to work, address financial concerns, and provide individuals with the opportunity to achieve financial independence and increased self-sufficiency.

Does SSI Offer the Same Work Incentives as SSDI?

While both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are Social Security Administration (SSA) programs that provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities, they have some differences in terms of eligibility criteria and work incentives. While there are common work incentives, some are specific to either SSI or SSDI.

What Is the Maximum Number of Hours You Can Work on Disability?

The number of hours you can work while receiving disability benefits depends on the specific disability program and its rules. In the context of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there is no specific limit on the number of hours you can work while receiving SSDI benefits. SSDI is based on your inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is a threshold level of earnings set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI has income and resource limits that individuals must meet to be eligible for benefits. However, it should be noted that SSA will often treat 40 hours of work as full-time/SGA work even if you are not earning over SGA amounts.

What Happens if My Income Changes Over Time?

You must report all income changes to the Social Security Administration immediately, whether you start working or stop working part-time again. Failure to accurately report income changes to the Social Security Administration can result in overpayments that must be repaid to the SSA.

Can I Get Disability Benefits if I’m Self-Employed?

Yes, it is possible to receive disability benefits if you are self-employed, but the eligibility criteria and rules may differ depending on the specific disability program you are applying for.

How Do I Prove My Work History for Disability Benefits?

Proving your work history is an important part of the process when applying for disability benefits, particularly for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the United States. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses your work history to determine if you have earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. You can provide documentation to prove your work history, such as W-2s or 1099s. You will also be required to fill out a work history report and provide that information to the SSA. We have a video on how to fill out a work history report – please visit our website at https://evansdisability.com/client-resources/

What Support Can a Disability Lawyer Provide?

A disability lawyer, also known as a Social Security disability attorney, can provide valuable support and assistance throughout the process of applying for disability benefits. They can assess your case to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for disability benefits, provide guidance on whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or one of the other disability programs and offer legal representation in your case. You can call Evans Disability for a free consultation at 855-503-0101 or visit our website at https://evansdisability.com/contact-us/