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DisabilityWhat is SGA — and Can I Work Part-Time if I Receive Disability?

November 21, 2022

If you are unable to work full-time because of a medical condition, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. While those monthly benefits can help with basic living expenses and the costs associated with medical care….what if you want to work just a bit to save money for something special, or help cover emergency expenses? In this blog post, the disability team at Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O.,  explains substantial gainful activity, also known as SGA, and it could affect your disability benefits. 

How to Work Part-Time On Disability

If you are disabled under Social Security’s rules, your conditions prevent you from being gainfully employed. The SSA releases the SGA amount every year. You can work part-time while receiving disability benefits, but the work needs to be minimal otherwise it could be “gainful work activity.”. If you exceed the SGA limits, the SSA will assume that you can work and earn a living and that you no longer need disability benefits. In 2023, the monthly SGA for statutorily blind individuals is $2,460 and for other disabled workers it is $1,470 per month. 

Additionally, individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) need to be aware that SSA will reduce their benefit amount if they are working and earning money. For every $2 over $65 dollars that an SSI recipient earns, SSA will reduce their SSI benefit by $1. This is because SSI benefits are needs based benefits. This reduction rule does not apply to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits because SSDI benefits are earned benefits. 

Social Security Disability Lawyer in Nebraska and Iowa

Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O.’s Social Security Disability team can help you secure benefits needed  to support yourself. Chellsie Weber, our wildly successful and experienced disability attorney, and Abby Reid, our wonderful and thorough disability paralegal, can offer support and advice as it pertains to your disability and the benefits approval process. Remember, you’re more likely to have a successful disability claim with an attorney by your side. Call us today at 402-991-2100. You also can share your story here

Exceptions For SGA Earnings

There are some programs that offer exceptions to the rule that earning at SGA level means you are no longer disabled.  You may want to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program. Vocational rehabilitation is for recipients who medically recover and go back to work but still receive payments to help them become self-supporting.

You could also participate in a Trial Work Period, which allows you to attempt to go back to work for a nine-month period while still being considered disabled. What does this mean? It’s a test of your ability to work. This means you can receive disability benefits based on your past income and still work part-time, at least for nine months over the course of a 60-month period. 

During the SGA Trial Work Period, you’ll receive full SSDI benefit payments no matter how much money you make. However, you must report your income and continue to meet the SSA’s rules for receiving disability benefits. 

If you earn more than $970 per month in 2022 or $1,050 in 2023, it counts toward your Trial Work Period. You can have nine months of that income or higher before your disability benefits are no longer paid. Again, those nine months don’t have to be consecutive as long as they’re completed within a 60-month period, which equals five years. For more information, take a look at these SSA charts: http://bit.ly/3TpKSuC

If you do not complete a full TWP during a 5-year period, the SSA may exclude some earlier months of work the next time agency officials review your earnings and thereby determine if you have used your Trial Work Period.

Should I Participate in SGA? 

If you are disabled and receiving disability benefits and you are interested in returning to work part-time, consult with a Social Security representative or talk with your disability attorney. With guidance, you can make the best choice for your specific situation. 

The disability lawyers at Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., have helped hundreds of workers throughout the area with their disability claims. If you are unable to work and need guidance with your disability claim, call Watson & Carroll to schedule your consultation with a knowledgeable disability lawyer who can help you get your claim on the right track. 

About Watson & Carroll 

Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., is not a high-volume law firm that only speaks with clients when it is absolutely necessary. For us, it’s personal. Our team works closely with our clients and their loved ones – not only so that we understand their challenges and concerns, but so we can tailor our approach to address those factors, aggressively pursue results, and secure peace of mind. Whether it is a medical malpractice case or advocating for disability benefits, we work to protect our clients and make sure their rights are upheld. 

Our firm can help. Call 402-991-2100 or email contact@watsoncarroll.com. You also can fill out our confidential contact form.

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