You can earn income while waiting for Disability, but earning over a certain amount can put your Disability claim in jeopardy. As of 2022, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), anyone earning over $1350 a month will probably not qualify for benefits.
These rules apply to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits only. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants, the upper limit depends on where you live, according to the SSI guide published by the SSA.
Income Requirements for Social Security Disability
Disability benefits exist because many elderly, blind, and disabled people are unable to earn enough to support themselves. If your disability is not serious enough to prevent you from doing your regular job or from finding a new job that pays just as well, you do not meet the criteria for Social Security Disability.
This does not mean that blind or disabled individuals are barred from working at all. You can earn up to a certain amount of money and still qualify for benefits. This amount varies depending on:
- Cost of living
- Average income where you live
- Any exceptions that the SSA does not include when calculating your eligibility
Special Requirements for Blind Applicants
While the SSA does not consider visual impairments a disability, blind or visually impaired individuals can still apply for SSDI.
In some ways, it may be easier to qualify as a blind or visually impaired individual because the maximum income threshold is higher. As of 2022, a blind applicant can earn as much as $2260 a month and still qualify for SSDI.
Proving Your Income Levels
As part of your application, the SSA will expect you to submit enough paperwork to prove how much you earn now and how much you earned before you became disabled. Examples of required paperwork may include:
- Tax filings
- Proof of other benefits you receive, such as worker’s compensation or military benefits
- A letter from your current or former employer
- Proof of other assets, such as deed or stocks
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Work Requirements for Social Security Disability
You have the right to seek employment and hold a job before, during, and after the Disability application process. However, if this job pays you more than the SSA’s limit, you will not qualify for benefits.
What Are Work Credits?
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you need to work for a certain number of years in a position insured by Social Security. For each year you work, you can earn up to four work credits. The older you are, the more credits you may need to apply for and receive SSDI.
Work credits only apply to SSDI. If you are seeking SSI benefits, you do not need any work credits.
Proving Your Work History
To demonstrate that you have enough work credits to receive Social Security Disability Insurance, you can send the SSA:
- A list of your last few employers
- Tax filings from the last several years
- The date you stopped working and the reason why you stopped working
- Your birth certificate (to establish your age)
- A statement from a vocational expert confirming that your disability prevents you from working
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Disability Requirements for Social Security Disability
A critical part of applying for SSDI is showing that you have a severe and long-lasting disability that keeps you from working. Many types of disability can prevent people from working, including but not limited to:
- Heart disease
- Liver or kidney disease
- Deafness or hearing impairment
- Cystic fibrosis
- Certain types of cancer
- Mental illness
Proving Your Disability
You need a professionally diagnosed disability to receive benefits. You can establish your disability to the SSA by submitting:
- Medical records, including the formal diagnosis and any tests that were conducted to arrive at that diagnosis
- A written statement from your doctor (or a doctor that your Social Security Disability lawyer asks to examine you)
- Statements from family or friends that confirm your condition and how it affects you
We Help People File for Disability
Whether you have already been denied or are filing for the first time, Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help you get the benefits you need to support yourself and your family. Call today for a free case review, during which we will help you understand whether you can earn income while waiting for Disability and what type of benefits you can apply for.