Can You Earn Income While On Social Security?

If you are unable to work at your job because of a medical condition, you may be approved to earn a monthly benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Once you manage to get through the lengthy and complicated application process, you may be surprised to learn that your benefit amount is not enough to replace the salary from your most recent job. Most people have to earn more income to make ends meet, but the SSA places some limits on that amount. Here is more about working, earning income, and keeping your social security disability benefits coming in.

Why the limitations on work?

While it may seem that the SSA is punishing recipients for earning money, you must remember that you only were approved for benefits because you claimed you were too sick to work at your job and earn any money at all. If you are able to work, you don't need benefits. That doesn't mean that you cannot work and contribute more to your income, however.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

This term is used frequently by the SSA, and it has two equally important meanings to recipients. The first is dollars and cents related.

1. Your income, once you are approved for benefits, is monitored and must be reported monthly. If you earn more than the limit, which for 2017 is $1,170 ($1,950 for the blind), you will lose your benefits. This amount can change on a yearly basis, and the SSA will inform you by mail of any changes, which are based on the cost of living. The amount of work you are able to do that takes your income above the stated limit is substantial gainful activity.

2. SGA is not only determined by your income, however. The nature of the work you are doing for that income is also examined. If you end up with a job that pays you less than the limit shown above, but is essentially doing the same work that you said you were unable to do when you applied, you will be in danger of losing those benefits. For example, if you have a severe back injury and are receiving social security benefits based on not being able to do your truck driving job, you cannot now work in a similar job, such as driving a UPS truck. You may, however, earn up to the limit at a more sedentary job, such as office or computer work.

If you are being denied benefits for any reason, speak to a social security attorney like Duncan Disability Law SC.