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How Much Do You Make On Social Security Disability

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Average Indexed Monthly Earnings

How Much Will You be Paid from SSDI or SSI?ï¥

First, the SSA will determine your AIME. To do this, the SSA will adjust, or index, your lifetime earnings to account for the increase in general wages that happened during the years you worked. This is done to make sure that the payments you get in the future mirror this rise.

The SSA will use up to 35 of your working years in the calculation. The SSA takes the years with the highest indexed earnings, adds them together, and divides them by the total number of months for those years. The average is then rounded down to reach your AIME.

You can see an example of how the SSA calculates an AIME on its website.

Your Ssdi Payment Depends On Your Average Lifetime Earnings

By Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney

If you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the amount you receive each month will be based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. It is not based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have. Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1,800 per month . However, if you are receiving disability payments from other sources, as discussed below, your payment may be reduced.

How To Lose Ssdi Benefits

The commonest reason why the SSA would stop a persons Social Security Disability payments is because the recipient has gone back to work, even though this isnt always the case. If you go back to your normal job when in receipt of SSDI benefits the SSA will decide if you are taking part in substantial gainful activity .

The key factor in deciding if work is considered to be SGA is the amount someone is paid. In 2020, somebody is typically considered to be engaging in SGA if his/her earnings exceed $1,260 or $2,110 for someone who is blind.

For example, if you are earning $200 weekly in a part-time job, you are not working above the SGA limit. If you are spending a lot of time at work but what you are doing constitute SGA despite the earnings being below the SGA threshold you could have your SSDI stopped.

However, if you are working and make over SGA you can be entered into a trial work period. This period allows somebody who is receiving SSDI benefits to try to go back to work without being told they will lose their SSDI eligibility.

In the majority of cases, you should be able to work for up to 9 months during a trial work period and you will still continue to receive your SSDI regardless of the amount you are earning. When the trial work period comes to an end and you are still taking part in a job earning above the SGA level the SSA is likely to decide you are no longer disabled so your Social Security Disability payments will stop.

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What Is The Disability Standard For Disability Insurance And Supplemental Security

Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security are reserved for workers with the most severe disabilities and conditions, and both use the same strict disability standard: inability to engage in substantial gainful activitydefined as being able to earn $1,040 a month in 2013due to one or more severe physical or mental impairments that are expected to last at least a year or could result in death. A workers impairment or combination of impairments must be so severe that the applicant is not only unable to do his or her previous work but also unableconsidering his or her age, education, and work experienceto engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

Medical evidence is the cornerstone for the determination of disability in both programs. To qualify, there must be medical evidence from a doctor, specialist, or certain other licensed or certified medical sources that documents a severe impairment. Evidence from other health care providerssuch as nurse practitioners or clinical social workersis not sufficient to document a severe medical impairment. And statements from the applicants themselves, their families, co-workers, friends, or neighbors are not treated as medical evidence.

What Is A Substantial Gainful Activity Limit And How Does It Apply To My Benefits

Social Security Disability SSDI Benefits and How Much You ...

The SSA sets an upper limit for how much earned income you can make and still fit their definition of disabled. This is the substantial gainful activity limit. The SSA adjusts this limit annually to account for changes in the cost of living.

In 2017, disabled workers can earn up to $1,170 per month and still qualify under the SGA limit. There is a higher limit for blind workers, who can earn up to $1,950 per month. If you earn above this limit, you are unlikely to qualify for SSD benefits. However, if you earn above this level while already receiving SSDI payments, it will not automatically stop your benefits. You may be entitled to a trial work period.

For a free legal consultation, call

Home » FAQs » Social Security Disability » How Many Hours Can I Work While On SSDI?

To receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must meet specific criteria. If you are earning money, you can only make up to a certain amount to qualify for benefits. For most people, how many hours you work doesnt count as much as how muchyou earn per month on SSDI.

The Social Security Administration will determine whether youre engaging in substantial gainful activity . SGA means:

  • You are earning more than a certain monthly amount .
  • For 2020, the SGA amount is $1,260 per month. For blind individuals, the SGA is $2,110 per month.
  • Its essential to check the SGA each year, as it can increase.

Most of the time, how much you earn matters more than work hours. However, there are exceptions.

Read Also: How To Find Out My Current Social Security Benefits

How To Maintain Your Ssdi Benefits

Being approved for SSDI benefits avoids financial hardship and most applicants have had to endure a difficult process to get these entitlements so in order to hold onto them you need to be aware of what you need to do. Two things you should do to keep your SSDI benefits active are as follows:

  • Keep seeing your doctor as this confirms you still have a disability
  • Maintain contact with the SSA on a regular basis
  • Notify the SSA if there are any changes to your circumstances such as: changing address, charged with an offense, altering your name, losing custody of a child who is in receipt of SSI benefits and taking up employment.

In the majority of cases when your situation is reviewed by the SSA, it is typically confirming your ongoing need for disability benefits. If you can provide medical evidence that your health has not improved and if you have maintained contact with the SSA your SSDI benefits will probably remain the same. If the SSA decides to review your case and you lose your SSDI as a result you may appeal the decision within ten days of the SSA notification.

Should I Work And Take Social Security

If you want to maximize your monthly Social Security checks, the simplest retirement strategy is to wait until full retirement age before claiming your benefits. That way, you’ll be able to earn an unlimited amount without losing a penny of your Social Security.

If waiting that long isn’t an option, there are still some things you can do. For many, claiming at the beginning of the year in which you’ll reach full retirement age works out fine because the higher earnings limits make it less likely that you’ll give up your Social Security.

Finally, if you’re expecting to work on a part-time basis, it’s smart to look at the earnings limits and how they compare with your pay. If it looks like you might trigger the provisions, then you might decide to work a little less to keep all your benefits.

Recommended Reading: When Can I Start Drawing My Social Security

Why Ssdi Requires Work Credits

As the acronym indicates, SSDI is an insurance program. You pay the premiums of this program through the Social Security deductions that your boss takes out of your paycheck and sends to the government on your behalf. That money helps to fund the monthly Social Security disability and retirement checks that people receive.

On the other hand, the source of funding for SSI benefits is general revenues, like income taxes and additional money that the government collects. Because SSI does not use payroll deductions for Social Security taxes as its source of funding, you do not have to pay into the system and accumulate work credits to be eligible for these benefits.

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If You Are Getting Other Benefits

2022 Social Security Disability Amount For How Much You Can Make

If you get both a CPP survivors pension and a disability benefit, they will be combined into a single monthly payment. The total amount you get cannot be greater than $1,413.66 per month .

If you are receiving both a retirement and survivor pension, and are then granted a post-retirement disability benefit, you will receive the higher amount of the survivor or post-retirement disability benefit flat rate.

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Read Also: When Should You Apply For Social Security

How Much Can You Earn And Still Receive Social Security

When you take benefits while you’re still working, Social Security may withhold part of your benefit depending on your income if you haven’t reached full retirement age. Your full retirement age is between 66 and 67 if you were born from 1943 to 1959 it’s 67 if you were born in 1960 or later.

Social Security will withhold benefits at the following rates in 2021:

  • $1 for every $2 of earned income above $18,960 until the year you reach full retirement age. Let’s say you’re 64 and earn $20,000 from working, and you’re already getting benefits. You’ve earned $1,040 above the earnings limit, so Social Security would withhold $520 from your benefit.
  • $1 for every $3 of earned income above $50,520 the year you reach full retirement age until the month before you’re eligible for your full benefit. Suppose you reach full retirement age in October. Social Security would only reduce your benefits if you earned more than $50,520 between January and September.

These rules apply whether you’re an older worker taking benefits based on your own work record or you’re getting a spousal benefit or a survivor benefit.

The key to understanding Social Security’s rules about working and benefits is that everything changes when you reach the date when you can fully retire. After that point, you can earn as much as you want and still keep all your benefits. Earlier, though, you can give up some of your benefits.

Reduction For Disability Payments From Other Sources

If you receive disability benefits from a private source, like a private pension or private insurance benefits, these benefits will not affect your SSDI benefits. If, however, you receive other public disability benefits, they may affect your SSDI benefits. For instance, if you were injured on the job and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the amount of SSDI benefits you receive might be reduced.

Other disability benefits that are not job-related and are paid for by the federal, state, or local government may also reduce your SSDI benefit amount. Examples of these include temporary disability benefits paid by the state, military disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability. Some public benefits are not counted toward the 80%, including SSI or VA benefits.

The combined total amounts you receive from SSDI and all other public disability benefits cannot be more than 80% of the average amount you earned before you became disabled. If the amount is more than 80% of what your average earnings were before you became disabled, in most states, the excess amount is deducted from your SSDI benefits.

The interaction between workers’ compensation and SSDI can be complicated and varies depending on what state you live in. If you qualify for more than one public disability benefit, you may want to speak with an attorney to make sure you do not miss out on any benefits you are entitled to.

Read Also: When Should You Apply For Social Security

How Common Is It For Beneficiaries To Return To Work

Both Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security provide incentives for beneficiaries to work. Disability Insurance beneficiaries are encouraged to work up to their full capacity and can earn an unlimited amount for up to 12 months without losing any benefits. Beneficiaries who work for more than 12 months and have earnings above the substantial gainful activity level cease to receive a monthly benefit. If at any point in the next five years their condition worsens and they are not able to continue working above the substantial gainful activity level, however, they are eligible for expedited reinstatement of their benefits. This means they do not need to repeat the entire, and typically lengthy, disability-determination process that they initially went through to qualify for benefits.

Supplemental Security beneficiaries who are able to work are encouraged to do so as well. Their benefits are reduced based on their earningsafter the first $85 of earnings each month, which is not counted against the benefitbut by only $1 for every $2 of earnings. Beneficiaries who are able to do some work will therefore always be better off with both earnings and a reduced benefit than just the benefit alone.

How Can The Social Security Disability Programs Be Improved To Increase Economic Security And Work Opportunities For Beneficiaries

If I win my disability case, how much money will I receive?

Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security increase economic security for millions of disabled workers. For beneficiaries whose conditions improve, the programs also provide important incentives and supports for returning to work. Still, the programs could be further strengthened to increase disabled workers economic security and provide a more seamless transition for those who are able to return to work.

Modernize Supplemental Security

The value of Supplemental Security benefits has eroded considerably since the programs inception in 1972, as the programs income exclusions and asset limits have not kept pace with inflation and living standards. The current maximum benefit is equivalent to just three-quarters of the also-outdated federal poverty line for a single person. The general income exclusion and earned income exclusion have never been increased. To address this erosion, H.R. 1601, the Supplemental Security Restoration Act, sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva and introduced in Congress in April 2013, would increase the monthly maximum benefit to $937, which is 100 percent of the current federal poverty line, and would increase the general income disregard to $110 per month and the earned income disregard to $357 a month. Increasing the income exclusions and indexing them to inflation going forward would restore the monthly benefit amount to its intended value and significantly increase beneficiaries economic security.

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Can You Get Ssdi And Ssi At The Same Time

In some cases, a disabled worker may receive payments from both the SSD and SSI programs. Typically, they qualify for SSD, but because they made very little over a short work history, even with SSD they have the financial need that makes them eligible for SSI. Receiving both SSD and SSI is referred to as concurrent benefits.

When the Social Security Administration considers your application for SSD or SSI, it will determine whether you qualify for concurrent benefits, depending on your income and assets.

In addition to more in your monthly check, having SSI in addition to SSD makes you instantly eligible for Medicaid. An SSD recipient qualifies for Medicaid two years after they become eligible for SSD. Both SSI and SSD recipients are also eligible for Medicare, which covers fewer services, but which more doctors accept.

Determining which benefits you qualify to receive, instead of just hoping some overworked SSA claims examiner gets it right, requires a thorough understanding of the SSD and SSI programs and accompanying law. Our attorneys have that knowledge as well as the commitment required to make sure you obtain the full benefits that you are entitled to by law.

Taxation Of Social Security Disability Backpay

Large lump-sum payments of back payments of SSDI can bump your income up for the year in which you receive them, which can cause you to pay a bigger chunk of your backpay in taxes than you should have to. To avoid losing part of your backpay this way, you are allowed to apply the SSDI benefits owed from a prior year to prior tax returns, lowering your income for the year you receive the lump sum. For example, if you were entitled to disability benefits for 22 months before you received your back pay, you could amend your tax returns for two prior years to claim some of the income in those years instead of the current year. You should ask a lawyer or CPA for help on this. For more information, read our article on how Social Security disability backpay is taxed.

Read Also: When Should You Apply For Social Security

Your Work History And Work Credits

The Social Security Administration determines whether you have worked enough to qualify for SSDI by converting your earnings into work credits. The dollar amount it takes to earn one work credit is calculated annually. In the year 2021, you must earn $1,470 to get one Social Security work credit, or $5,880 to get the maximum four credits for the year. It doesnt matter in which quarters you do the work.

How much do you have to pay into Social Security to get disability benefits? As you can see, you need only earn a minimal amount of money to get credit for a year of paying into Social Security, so the question is really about how many years do you have to work to be eligible for disability.

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